To: The Wellesley College Community
From: President Paula A. Johnson
Re: Response to Black Students’ Demands
Date: June 27, 2020

This has been a devastating time with the COVID-19 pandemic laying bare enormous racial inequities in our country, many of which are rooted in racism. This was followed by the horrific murders of more Black people by the police.

Here at Wellesley, Black students are leading calls for change, which is prompting us to look inward to hear their concerns and acknowledge—as I did earlier this month—that Wellesley is not immune from systemic racism.

Last week, Dean Sheilah Horton and I met with a group of fifty Black students and they shared their list of demands, which reflect their long-standing concerns about barriers to their academic and personal success at Wellesley. Discussing their demands was a powerful reminder that while we have made important progress toward the goal of inclusive excellence, there is much more work to do.

Following this meeting, our Black students shared a list of changes they want to see with Senior Leadership and with many in our community. Their concerns cover many aspects of the Wellesley experience, including campus policing, the representation of Black students in the student body, the need for increased numbers of Black faculty, the curriculum and classroom experience, among others.

We affirm the experience of our Black students and pledge to work to address and remedy issues that they have named in their demands. To move forward, we will be engaging Senior Leadership, Student Life, the faculty, staff, and College Government and will work with our Black students regarding a plan to make progress on the issues they presented.

I pledge, and hope all will join with me, to work through an anti-racist framework to make necessary and meaningful changes that will make Wellesley truly a place that all of our Black students can call “home” and where they can thrive.

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