A portion of the Black Faculty Staff Council's letter regarding racism at WMU.

A portion of the Black Faculty Staff Council's letter regarding racism at WMU.

Western Michigan University’s Black Faculty Staff Council (BFSC) has addressed a lawsuit against the University over a 2017 event where Mitchell Beare, former Assistant Director for Operations, tried to put a noose around one of his Black coworker’s necks. 

In the lawsuit, Smith Moore, Director of Event Services for the Bernhard Center, detailed Beare’s racially discriminatory behavior against Moore and other students. Beare retired with benefits soon before an investigation found his behavior violated the university’s Non-Discrimination policy.

“This racially charged incident illustrates a disturbing yet familiar form of dehumanization and White Supremacy that has been experienced and/or felt by many Black faculty, staff and students here at WMU,” the letter reads.

The BFSC was created in response to many long term WMU employees sharing their distaste with the university’s climate regarding race and quality of life for African Americans in the WMU community.

“One of the primary purposes of BFSC is to advise senior University leadership on matters regarding race, equity, diversity and inclusion, and issues impacting Black faculty, staff, administrators, and students,” the letter reads.

In the letter, the Council specifies how Beare was allowed to retire with benefits before the investigation found he violated the Non-Discrimination policy.

“This racially charged incident illustrates a disturbing yet familiar form of dehumanization and White Supremacy that has been experienced and/or felt by many Black faculty, staff and students here at WMU,” the letter reads.

At a 2020 BFSC townhall meeting, multiple African American staff members shared how they’re discriminated against in their respective areas. Many explained how they face racial bias in promotional opportunities, unfair treatment and harassment from colleagues and supervisors. Additionally, every member of BFSC leadership has acknowledged a complex system of institutional and structural barriers they must navigate.

“These continued acts of racism and bigotry at Western Michigan University are having a negative impact on Black faculty, staff, students, retirees, alumni, donors, and most importantly, prospective Black students and their perception of the institution,” the letter reads. “These occurrences affect the entire Western Michigan University community as we grapple with the recent layoffs of personnel and the devastating effects of COVID 19.”

To conclude, the BFSC called for the university to address written and unwritten policies, practices and procedures that perpetuate and reward acts of racial oppression on campus.

“Enough is enough,” the letter reads. “WMU must look at its systems of operation – both written and unwritten policies – as well as practices and procedures, that perpetuate, tolerate, and reward acts of racial oppression that create a racially intimidating, hostile, and offensive environment for Black people. The time is now.”

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