Petition for Babson College to Support its Black Community

Petition for Babson College to Support its Black Community

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Adrienne Johnson started this petition to Babson College and

“A character standard is far more important than even a gold standard.” – Roger Babson, Founder of Babson College

“Lead, follow, or get out of the way.” – Steven Spinelli Jr. MBA ’92, PhD, Babson College President

Summary

We, members of Babson College’s Black community, comprised of alumni, faculty, and staff are calling upon President Spinelli and Babson College (herein referred to as “Babson” or “the College”) to take bold action by: 1) partnering with the Black Affinity Network (BAN - also comprised of alumni, faculty, and staff) on all programming and events moving forward and 2) increasing its financial and operational commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion, particularly as it relates to serving Black students, alumni, faculty, staff, and friends at Babson (herein referred to as “Blacks at Babson” or “the Black community”). 

Historical Context

Babson has historically been inconsistent with its efforts around diversity, equity and inclusion.  While we acknowledge the College has made some significant strides over the last few years, it has struggled to consistently provide fully dedicated resources and funding for Blacks at Babson. In other words, the College’s commitment has wavered many times, manifested through institutional and operational opposition; for example:

·  Disbandment of the Office of Minority Affairs and the Babson Black Alumni Association, each of which existed during the 1970s

·  Collaborating with the BSU on the colleges first affinity conference in 1998 (budget of $25k), only to let it lapse in 2008 before Black alumni rallied to have it brought back in 2010 (budget of $8k)

·  Exceptionally high turnover with respect to BAN’s primary point of contact at Babson - 14 different individuals over the past 4 years (many of whom no longer work at Babson)

·  Non-transparent and sometimes limited record-keeping of BAN account financials, event attendance, and Black Student Union presidents 

·  Last-minute coordination and marketing of events (e.g. Class of 2020 Black Student Send-Off, 2020 Family Reunion)  

In the same vein, Black alumni requests for additional support, such as a Black Alumni Association have been refused despite racism, research and recurring personal accounts proving that the Black experience at Babson and beyond, like many other college campus and professional environments, is substantially different from the experiences white counterparts enjoy.

Consequently, Leticia Stallworth ’99, MBA ’13, in true Babson form, established the Black Affinity Network. Since its inception via social media in 2008 and subsequent preliminary partnership with Babson in 2016, BAN has made an indelible mark on Babson and the Black community thanks to Leticia’s vision and leadership coupled with the tireless work and support of other Babson alumni. Some of BAN’s accomplishments to-date include:

·  (Re)engaging over 1400 multi-generational, Black alumni with the College

·  Raising over $250,000  in support of Black students, alumni, faculty, and staff despite representing only 2% of Babson’s population

·  Revitalizing Babson’s Black student pipeline and through personal connections and strategic partnerships

The influence and success of the Black Affinity Network is unmatched when compared to any previous effort or initiative attempted by the College to engage the Black community. Yet as of February 2021, it has come to our attention that Babson is actively laying the groundwork create a “separate but similar” Black alumni organization. We are well aware that Babson and BAN have had a strained working relationship in the past and while Babson’s Black community is not a monolith of thoughts and perspectives, we stand together firmly in our belief that having two concurrent organizations with overlapping objectives and programming and serving the same constituent group will do more damage than good. Two “separate but similar” organizations will sow seeds of discord and strife rather than uniting us as ONEBlackcommunity, ONEBabson. Most importantly, it will do a significant disservice to students by unfairly forcing them to choose between BAN and Babson and, by doubly taxing their time and energy - which is already stretched given their academic and personal responsibilities.

Our Request

Please discontinue your efforts to mute and/or control Black voices. While we understand our priorities nay not be your priorities, our highest priority is to ensure the success of Babson students. We want to see them thrive and we know that is best achieved when they have fully committed institutional resources and support. Thus, we are asking President Spinelli and Babson College to take the following actions in time for the 2021-2022 academic year, actively demonstrating Babson’s unwavering commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion for Black students, alumni, faculty, staff and friends: 

Babson-BAN Partnership

·  Partner with BAN on all Black affinity related programming and events moving forward

·  Hire 1 full-time, senior-level Babson employee with a 3-4 year contractual commitment to serve as Babson-BAN Liaison, coordinating all moving Babson parts while the BAN President coordinates with BAN Territory Captains, thereby enabling operational efficiency and greater collaboration between the Babson and the Black Affinity Network

·  Collaborate with BAN on strategic objectives with respect to recruitment, retention, and re-engagement

Babson Institutional Operations and Resources

·  Have the Chief Diversity Officer role report directly into President Spinelli’s cabinet with all other business functions 

·  Increase Diversity and Inclusion budget, including allocation of additional finances to support of Black undergraduate and graduate students, enabling more dynamic programming and resources

·  Reinstate the Office of Minority Affairs to serve as a central resource for Black and other underrepresented students on campus and formally dedicate resources to support Black students academic success, professional development  and personal growth at Babson

·  Have the Advancement team actively collaborate with BAN on raising their endowment to ensure long-term funding and sustainability for the Black community  

·  Engage in consistent and transparent recruitment of Black students to enable continued access to higher education and to further enhance the fabric of the broader Babson community

·  Equity and access to the Center for Career Development at the undergraduate and graduate levels

·  Timely, consistent, and transparent provision of information to support successful BAN programming and resources for the Black community

If you stand in agreement with this position, please sign here

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