BU Photography
Our New Reality—for a while
Distinctively & Together.

April 2020. Total Disruption

First, we'd like to take a moment to thank our colleagues on the Medical campus and those clinical practitioners on the CRC and Fenway campuses whose work is so essential to the health and wellbeing of us all. Thank you very much for your expertise. Thank you for your work on behalf of our communities. Thank you for your service. Thank you for your courage and for your personal sacrifices. We appreciate you more than we can say.


If someone had said, at the beginning of this decade—just 3 months ago (!)—that everyone would be teaching online, that city streets would be vacant, that homeschooling would be the norm, or that there would be such a thing as "senior shopping hours," who would have believed them?

And while many aspects of our lives have become more challenging, we are also learning things about the realities of our lives and the lives of others that we may not have fully understood or, if we're honest, even considered. Suddenly, as our routines and habits are disrupted, we find ourselves stretching in ways that might have seemed unimaginable just a few weeks ago. To be blunt: many more of us are considering the circumstances of others with more acceptance, respect, and compassion. We are learning how much more generous, open, and inclusive we can be.

All of us are now working on a series of collective experiments wrought by necessity. In these experiments we see, at least through the prism of Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion and in relation to Higher Education, great possibilities for a more inclusive future. A future that positions the differences between us not as obstacles or annoyances around which or against which we must work, but as facts to be harnessed in service of our collective work, facts with which we must work in order to achieve our common goal and excel. This shift is important because it shows us that our differences can be a source of intentional, important, and necessary growth. Growth, we know, can be hard, tiring work. But it can also be fun, freeing, and catalytic.

May you go into the work of these next weeks with, if not eagerness, openness and curiosity. May you catalyze others to act towards creating even more equity and inclusion within this new framework. Possibilities abound!

That said, our work in BU D&I continues. Below, you will find standard fare for this newsletter. But also, you will find a collection of links to articles and videos related to the coronavirus that we have found worth the time they take to consider.

One and all: Please take good care of yourselves. Take good care of others. Get some fresh air, if possible. Practice patience—with yourselves and others. And, where and when possible, seek out humor and things that bring you joy.

The D&I Team.

BU D&I News

Research Networks

In February, BU D&I in collaboration with the Office of Research hosted exploratory meetings to discuss how we might more fully support scholars focused on anti-racism and LGBTQIA+ research. Of course, between then and now, much has changed and our in-person plans for this semester were scuttled. Nevertheless, we are developing programming for Fall semester. In the meantime and if your research or pedagogical interests are in either or both of these areas and you care to join an online, self-propelled community of research peers, please consider joining the Microsoft Teams spaces we've created by clicking the buttons below.

Anti-Racism Research Network
LGBTQIA+ Research Network

Allies & Advocates in Action

BU Islamic Society

Leithland Kilburn, BU Photography
In February, the BU Islamic Society hosted Dr. Yusef Salaam in the Tsai Performance Center. Dr. Salaam is most well-known for being a member of the Central Park Five, now known as the Exonerated Five.

School of Social Work
All in for Social Justice

During the spring of 2019, 92 BUSSW faculty, staff, and administrators collaborated on an internal initiative to improve teaching and learning about racial and social justice to create the Social Justice Learning Communities. These communities, or cohorts, have three primary goals:

  1. To offer education and training about racial/social justice to the BUSSW community;
  2. To develop shared organizational language, analytic frameworks, and practice about racial/social justice as applied to social work education; and
  3. To apply this shared framework in order to improve instruction and classroom learning environments within BUSSW.
Each cohort met monthly for 90-minute sessions to discuss and apply learning materials to current challenges at BUSSW and in their personal lives. Since then, the project has expanded to include:
  • Cohort sessions for part-time lecturers, off-campus and online advisors, and facilitators;
  • A school-wide colloquium held in Fall '19: Smith College School for Social Work’s 25-Year Anti-racism Commitment: What does it mean, how has it been experienced, and what can BUSSW learn from this?
  • Monthly social justice labs / case consultations utilizing a reflecting team model open to all community members:
  • A new committee to highlight social justice events in the larger community; and
  • Evaluation of the curriculum for social justice content.

BUSSW seeks to foster collective understanding, promote clear communication, develop and analyze strategies for improvement, and identify points of unity and difference within the BUSSW community.

BU School of Public Health

BU's School of Public Health has been holding a public Coronavirus Seminar Series to help our community cope with changes to their physical and mental health. This series includes topics such as Mental Health in a Time of Crisis, and Politics, Health, and Coronavirus, and brings together experts from BU, Harvard, Yale,  Dartmouth, Lehigh Univeristy, etc.

You can register here to participate in Politics, Health, and Coronavirus, which will be held on April 2 from 4-5pm, or watch past seminars here.

BU Information Services & Technology (IS&T)

BU IS&T has been working to ensure all of BU's 35,472 students and 10,348 employees are prepared for remote teaching, learning, and working. They have been collaborating directly with Zoom to make sure the program would be able to handle the great increase in virtual meetings. They have been creating resources to aid those who aren't so tech savvy. And they have been working to ensure equitable access to academic resources for those who might not have the same capabilities available to them at home as they have on campus.

Take a look at these how-to resources and tech support:

Data gathered from BU Facts & Stats, Office of the President


Scientists at BU's National Emerging Infectious Diseases Laboratories (NEIDL) have recently begun conducting live coronavirus research, joining the Greater Boston Consortium on Pathogen Readiness in the international research effort to learn about the coronavirus, treat the ill, and prevent the silent spread of this global pandemic. Working with the live virus allows for a more comprehensive understanding of the disease, which these researchers hope will result in more effective treatments and a vaccine in a shorter period of time.


Access & Coronavirus

As Classes Move Online What Happens to Students Without Internet or Computers? Debbie TruongNPR. March 18, 2020.  "Educators at schools with less technology fear that closures will exacerbate inequities as more instruction moves online."

14 Tips for Helping Students With Limited Internet Have Distance Learning. Amielle Major. KQED. March 24, 2020.  "According to recent federal data, approximately 14 percent of U.S. families with school-age children lack high-speed internet. Most of those families are low-income or live in rural areas. While there are plenty of best practice guides available for online learning, strategies for bridging the digital divide are scarce."

Maintaining Mental Health During the Coronavirus Pandemic. The Steve Fund, in collaboration with The Jed Foundation, has been working to connect young people of color in need of mental health intervention with mental health counselors and trained volunteers. Feeling stressed or overwhelmed and looking for help? Text STEVE to 741741 and be connected with a crisis counselor, 24/7.

They Clean the Buildings Workers are Fleeing. But Who's Protecting Them? John Eligon and Nellie Bowles. The New York Times. March 19, 2020.  "Janitors are going into offices to battle the invisible germs that threaten public health, sometimes without adequate protection or information about what they are facing."

When Coronavirus Closes Colleges, Some Students Lose Hot Meals, Health Care, and a Place to Sleep. Karin Fischer. The Chronicle of Higher Education. March 11, 2020.  "As coronavirus fears lead colleges across the country to send their students home, they risk leaving many low-income students in the lurch."

Anti-Asian Racism

Don't Let the Coronavirus Be an Excuse to Unleash Your Prejudice Against the Asian Community. Veronica Wells. Madamenoire. March 18, 2020.  "Chinese journalist, Weijia Jiang, said that a White House official called the coronavirus 'Kung-Flu' to her face."

Nonprofits launch site for Asian Amerivans to report Coronavirus-related racism. Natasha Roy. NBC News. March 20, 2020.  "'We hope members of the AAPI community will report incidents they have experienced, which may range from microaggressions to incidents of racial profiling to hate violence,' the site's co-founder said."

Spit On, Yelled At, Attacked: Chinese Americans Fear for Their Safety. Sabrina Tavernise and Richard A. Oppel Jr. New York Times. March 24, 2020.  "As bigots blame them for the coronavirus and President Trump labels it the “Chinese virus,” many Chinese-Americans say they are terrified of what could come next."

“They just see that you’re Asian and you are horrible”: How the pandemic is triggering racist attacks. Catherine Kim. VOX. March 25, 2020.  "Racial slurs and hateful acts against Asian Americans are on the rise."
The Arts Can Illuminate & Elevate
Boston's very own Berklee College of Music students with a viral message. If you look closely, you'll see a Terrier in there (or, at least, someone wearing a Terrier T-shirt).
10 Days Later: What Italians Wish They Had Known. Emily Buder. The Atlantic. March 16, 2020.  "[Italian filmmaker Olmo Parenti] put out a call for citizens across the country to film themselves in quarantine. 'We asked them to talk in first person to the camera... and give themselves advice based on their own past behavior.' The resulting film, 10 Days, features messages from dozens of terrified Italians. The videos play as if warnings from the future.
A little bit of visual art-making. People from around the world re-creating classic images while staying at home during #Coronavirus. Click here to visit the gallery.
'Write it Down': Historian Suggests Keeping a Record of Life During the Pandemic. Anne E. Bromley. UVA Today. March 17, 2020.  “'You do not write alone,' Herbert 'Tico' Braun tells his University of Virginia students. Even before this time of uncertainty due to the coronavirus pandemic, those words could be comforting, his students have told him. Now they mean something more."

IGTV's The 24-hour Plays project—pairs a writer and an actor who, within 24 hours, produce these wonderful monologues.
Alvin Ailey Dancers perform Rennie Harris' "Lazarus" during Covid19 while practicing physical distancing. #TheShowMustGoOn.

Higher Education & COVID-19

An Open Letter to our Community | COVID-19. The Spencer Foundation March 20, 2020. "More drastic change to education systems has occurred in the last week than it has in arguably the last 50 years. What possibilities does this open up for the future of learning, for the reorganization of our institutions, for the centrality of families and family life?"

COVID-19 Comes to Campus: What Hurricane Katrina Tell Us About the Current Campus CrisisMahauganee D. Shaw Bonds and Nadrea R. Njoku. Diverse Issues in Higher Education. March 25, 2020.  "While there are major differences between an environmental disaster and a public health emergency, there are some parallels between Katrina’s impact on daily operations and what we currently face with COVID-19."

Why the Coronavirus Looks Like a 'Black Swan' Moment for Higher EdGoldie Blumenstyk. The Chronicle of Higher Education. March 11, 2020.  "Is it crazy to think that a new virus could be more of a catalyst for online education and other ed-tech tools than decades of punditry and self-serving corporate exhortations? Not in the least. What Hurricane Katrina was to colleges in New Orleans, the reverberations from coronavirus will be to all of American higher education: a reset moment that prompts colleges to rethink how they operate at every level."

"Zoombombing" Attacks Disrupt Classes. Elizabeth Redden. Inside Higher Ed. March 26, 2020.  "Online Zoom classes were disrupted by individuals spewing racist, misogynistic or vulgar content. Experts say professors using Zoom should familiarize themselves with the program's settings." 

Tending to the Heart & Spirit

That Discomfort You're Feeling is Grief. Scott Berinato. Harvard Business Review. March 23, 2020.  "[David] Kessler shared his thoughts on why it’s important to acknowledge the grief you may be feeling, how to manage it, and how he believes we will find meaning in it."

Need a Laugh? Check Out Our List of Comedy Shows to Binge-WatchBU Today. March 23, 2020.  "These series and specials offer an antidote..."

What Americans Are Doing Now Is Beautiful. Garrett M. Graff. The Atlantic. March 19, 2020.  "The public’s response to the Coronavirus will stand as a remarkable moment of national mobilization."

Gate A-4
by Naomi Shihab-Nye

Wandering around the Albuquerque Airport Terminal, after learning
my flight had been delayed four hours, I heard an announcement:
"If anyone in the vicinity of Gate A-4 understands any Arabic, please
come to the gate immediately."

Well—one pauses these days. Gate A-4 was my own gate. I went there.

An older woman in full traditional Palestinian embroidered dress, just
like my grandma wore, was crumpled to the floor, wailing. "Help,"
said the flight agent. "Talk to her. What is her problem? We
told her the flight was going to be late and she did this."

I stooped to put my arm around the woman and spoke haltingly.
"Shu-dow-a, Shu-bid-uck Habibti? Stani schway, Min fadlick, Shu-bit-
se-wee?" The minute she heard any words she knew, however poorly
used, she stopped crying. She thought the flight had been cancelled
entirely. She needed to be in El Paso for major medical treatment the
next day. I said, "No, we're fine, you'll get there, just later, who is
picking you up? Let's call him."

We called her son, I spoke with him in English. I told him I would
stay with his mother till we got on the plane and ride next to
her. She talked to him. Then we called her other sons just
for the fun of it. Then we called my dad and he and she spoke for a while
in Arabic and found out of course they had ten shared friends. Then I
thought just for the heck of it why not call some Palestinian poets I know
and let them chat with her? This all took up two hours.

She was laughing a lot by then. Telling of her life, patting my knee,
answering questions. She had pulled a sack of homemade mamool
cookies—little powdered sugar crumbly mounds stuffed with dates and
nuts—from her bag—and was offering them to all the women at the gate.
To my amazement, not a single woman declined one. It was like a
sacrament. The traveler from Argentina, the mom from California, the
lovely woman from Laredo—we were all covered with the same powdered
sugar. And smiling. There is no better cookie.

And then the airline broke out free apple juice from huge coolers and two
little girls from our flight ran around serving it and they
were covered with powdered sugar, too. And I noticed my new best friend—
by now we were holding hands—had a potted plant poking out of her bag,
some medicinal thing, with green furry leaves. Such an old country tradi-
tion. Always carry a plant. Always stay rooted to somewhere.

And I looked around that gate of late and weary ones and I thought, This
is the world I want to live in. The shared world. Not a single person in that
gate—once the crying of confusion stopped—seemed apprehensive about
any other person. They took the cookies. I wanted to hug all those other women, too.

This can still happen anywhere. Not everything is lost.


Poetry is Not a Luxury

Tuesday, April 21 | 6:30 pm
Join via Zoom
  • Meeting ID: 427 154 616
  • Password: 084483
In 1985, writer-activist Audre Lorde wrote an essay titled “Poetry is Not a Luxury” about moving beyond what is, about envisioning, expressing and grasping things without names, dreaming, freeing oneself of the power structures in which we live. With this theme as a guiding principle, we invite students and faculty to participate in the first-ever virtual Student-Faculty Forum exploring the necessity of poetry and the arts in our lives.
  • Robert Pinsky: Professor and Director of the Creative Writing Program and Poet Laureate of the United States (2007-2010)
  • Margaret Lee: Assistant Professor and Director of Pediatric Dermatology at Boston Medical Center
  • Kenneth Elmore: Associate Provost and Dean of Students
  • Crystal Williams: Professor of English and Associate Provost for Diversity & Inclusion
  • Moderated by Virginia Sapiro: Professor, Department of Political Science; Women’s, Gender, & Sexuality Studies Program; Dean emerita, College and Graduate School of Arts & Sciences

BU D&I Faculty and Staff Network Events 

Faculty and Staff Living with Disabilities
Remote meeting via Zoom
April 6 | 12:00 pm

Join the leadership team of the Living  Disabilities FSN to learn more about the network, upcoming events, and ways to get involved.
 RSVP to join the meeting here. 

Virtual Social Hour
April 7 | 5:00 pm 

Join the LGBTQIA+ FSN for a fun, social hour of trivia on Zoom! Our trivia DJ will be BUMC's Jonathan Brett.
Click here for more information.

Covid-19 and its impact on the LGBTQIA+ Population
April 22 | 5:00 pm 

Join the LGBTQIA+ FSN for presentations and discussions on Covid-19 and its impact on the LGBTQIA+ Population.
Click here for more information.

Faculty and Staff of Color
Remote Meeting via Zoom 
April 22 | 12:00 pm

Join the leadership team of the Faculty and Staff of Color Network to learn more about the network, upcoming events, and ways to get involved.
RSVP to join the meeting here.

Quips, Quotes, & Short Considerations

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 Diversity & Inclusion
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