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Black student leaders demand UMass Lowell hold itself accountable for student experience and create a task force

(Photo Courtesy of UMass Lowell) According to the office of Multicultural Affairs (OMA), in the fall of 2019 7% of the student population identified as black.

Emmanuel Idehen-Ovabor
Connector Staff

In light of Black History Month, it seems appropriate to look at one of UMass Lowell’s newest clubs, the Black Leadership Action Council (BLAC). Prior to BLAC’s foundation, clubs that supported individuals of the African diaspora included the Black Student Union (BSU), the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE), the Association of Students of African Origin (ASAO) and the Haitian American Student Association (HASA).

With their close ties to UMass Lowell’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Council (DEI), BLAC frequently consults with members of the council to instill and maintain success for Black students.

The club was started as an alliance to rally for change within the university community and serves to advocate for an equitable, inclusive and diversified campus setting. Students will have an active role in their university experience. Additionally, the purpose of BLAC is aligned with an essential component of UMass Lowell’s mission: To create opportunities for the next generation of students to become leaders on campus, who will continue to dedicate themselves to advancing the university’s commitment for social justice.

UMass Lowell’s BLAC exists as union that aims to unite individual platforms and networks to advocate for the student body. BLAC was created by BSU, NSBE, ASAO and HASA due to Black students’ heightened responses that expressed the injustices committed against them during their time at the university. Since students deserve a quality education, the council has made it their mission to formally address university administration with student concerns to ensure that all scholars can succeed in their academic endeavors.

Also, due to the current racial injustices against the Black community, students at UMass Lowell have been voicing their adversities during their time at the university. Some students said they have been stereotyped, experienced microaggressions from other students and professors and felt unheard.

To address these concerns, amongst others, student leaders affiliated with the Black-identified campus clubs created BLAC as an additional resource to hold the university accountable for the experiences of their students. As an alliance, students in BLAC take on active leadership roles in their university experience to ensure accountability.

BLAC has developed several goals to address student concerns in hopes of providing an equitable, inclusive and diversified experience for Black students. BLAC has projected the following goals:

UMass Lowell will strengthen the recruitment and retention of black students/staff at the university to diversify the community by assembling a task force lead by a full-time professional staff member of color whose responsibility is solely in recruiting staff of color such as full-time professors, Black therapists, career and co-op center employees, deans, etc.

This taskforce will ensure that the university is also providing innovative and enriching experiences for all those working to retain Black students and staff.

There will be advocacy for creating an accessible pipeline for Black faculty and staff which will allow graduate students and alumni to secure employment opportunities that match their interests and expertise that will benefit the university community.

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