Thomas College has announced members named to its Presidential Task Force on Equity, Diversity and Social Justice, which was created in June. The creation of the task force by President Laurie G. Lachance was in response to the recent global outcry over the senseless killings of black community members and the call to meaningfully address systematic racism in our society, according to a news release from the Waterville college.

The purpose of the task force is to deepen the college’s commitment to holistic learning experiences that develop a spirit of active engagement in fostering racial healing, combatting structural racism, and creating equitable opportunities for all members of our community. This requires a more profound knowledge and understanding of the social, political, economic, and psychological issues associated with racial injustice and racial inequality.

The task force’s Dr. Richard Biffle, co-chairman, and Professor Judith Hansen-Childers, co-chairwoman, have named 35 members to the force including representatives from administration and trustees, faculty, students, staff, and alumni. The members include the following:
President’s representatives: Ed Cervone, Bernie Ouellette, Brian Bernatchez, and Danielle Marquis;
Faculty representatives: Dr. Katie Rybakova, Dr. Steve Kahl, Professor Andrea Thebarge, Dr. Mark Marsolais, Dr. Rick Saucier, Dr. Alicia Wilcox, Dr. Dan Leland; Deputy Chief William Bonney, and Coach Deshon Gaither;
Student representatives: Ryley Velozo, Emma Hayden, Joel Matondo, LG Fleurine, Diane Mutoni, Kyle Greene, and Alexis Nestor;
Staff representatives: Camille McGadney, Jim Delorie, David Smith, Zahayra Razo, Crystal Leavitt, Stephen Reid, Michael Sales, Carol Jollotta, and Sgt. Paul Heath; and
Alumni representatives: Mike Akanji, Flavia Oliveria, Lonnie Thompson, Alisha Baral, Sydni Collier, and Ntumba Mutombo.

“Recent events in the U.S. have presented us with an opportunity to critically reflect on the type of community and culture we want to develop and maintain here at Thomas College. Change is hard and focusing on Equity, Diversity, and Social Justice is a deeply personal experience that requires us to step out of our comfort zones whereby silence is not an option,” said Biffle, according to the release. “Like the nation and global community voices, our Task Force members are advocates for human rights, civil rights and social justice, and who are committed to guiding the college’s fulfillment of its diversity, equity, inclusion, and anti-racist initiatives.”

The goals of the task force will be to review the college’s standing around campus equity, diversity and social justice and make recommendations based on findings. The task force members will be split into four working groups: establishment and support of educational programs; expansion of curriculum and co-curricular activities; identifying and delivering support materials and resources; and creating a more holistic campus learning environment.

This is a critical moment for Thomas College and local, state, national and global communities in which we exist.