Black and indigenous students at Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania will receive special funds to pay for their therapy, books, and other expenses after the school agreed to activist demands for a “reparations fund.”
The College Fix reported that student activists who organized a “racial justice strike” on campus last year included the reparations fund as one of their demands:
The students’ demand called for “the implementation of a ‘reparations fund’ towards a yearly allocation of funds and resources to Black and Indigenous students in the form of grants for summer programs, affinity groups, multicultural spaces, and individual expenses such as books, online courses, therapy, and any and all financial need beyond the scope of racial justice work.”
Bryn Mawr leaders agreed to this demand by renaming the Dean’s Emergency Fund to the Dean’s Student Assistance Fund, doubling its allocation to $10,000 annually, and appointing a committee that includes representation of black, indigenous, and people of color staff and faculty, to administer the fund.
Bryn Mawr posted a spreadsheet to explain how the school will meet 15 of the activists’ demands, including the reparations fund. The school said it would rename the Dean’s Emergency Fund for the students, now calling it the Dean’s Student Assistance Fund and doubling the amount of money in the fund to around $10,000. Bryn Mawr said it would “Publicly release spending reports of this fund at the end of each semester” and “Appoint committee to administer Student Assistance Fund that includes representation from [black, indigenous, and people of color] BIPOC staff/faculty from range of departments; post members on website.”
The demands from student activists came after police shot and killed Philadelphia man Walter Wallace Jr., who brandished a knife at police officers. School activists started a strike, claiming Bryn Mawr students of color “have experienced similar historical anti-Black violence, institutional racism, silencing, and instances of white supremacy.”
As the Fix reported, the students boycotted classes and held sit-ins as part of their protest.
In addition to reparations, Bryn Mawr activists demanded the immediate removal of M. Cary Thomas’ name from a school library and $75,000 “for independent research on critical race theory.” The school removed references to Thomas but did not mention critical race theory specifically in its explanation for how it would accept the students’ demands. It did include $75,000 for some sort of “memorial” to be planned with the Philadelphia Mural Arts Project.
The activists also claimed the school was committing “violence” of some kind against disabled students and those with mental health issues, demanding Bryn Mawr invest $500,000 in “wellness and health services.” The school agreed to use a “transformative justice framework to change College protocols involving mental health crises.” The school also agreed to use the reparations fund to “make financial assistance for co-pays available” for students of color.
The students also made demands on behalf of students in the country illegally, including the hiring of a new dean specifically for those students.
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