Letter to the campus community

Dear Members of the Bates Community,

I write in response to events that are happening on campuses across the nation and to make you aware of a unique opportunity for considered conversation on race and inclusiveness in higher education that is happening on the Bates campus this weekend.

Beginning today, 180 students, faculty, and leaders from a broad range of colleges and universities will join us for the 2015 C3 (Creating Connections Consortium) Summit. The theme of the gathering is “Practicing Communities: The Transformative Power of Race in the Academy.”

This conference could not be better timed. The C3 Summit will consist of keynote speakers and working sessions, open to the entire Bates community, that will focus on questions of how we build and sustain truly inclusive communities and strengthen pathways to graduate school and the professoriate for people historically underrepresented in higher education.

As an educational institution, we have a duty to wrestle openly and effectively with the essential questions of race in higher education. As Bates, with our particular history and mission, we ought to take this challenge especially seriously. We also have a duty to address the barriers — structural, cultural, or habitual — that preclude full participation in the Bates experience by all members of our community. This is hard work, it is collective work, and it is work that each and every one of us needs to be part of. It requires openness, listening, respect for the dignity of every person, rigorous and good faith discourse, and sustained effort.

My hope is that the conference this weekend will provide a powerful forum for discussion of these important issues as well as rich content for the conversation and practice that must continue after our guests have left town if we are to make meaningful progress on these issues at Bates.

With all best wishes,

Clayton Spencer