Antiracism and the McKeen Center

The McKeen Center acknowledges that there is no version of the common good that exists without the recognition of and active work to end the oppression, marginalization, and active threats to Black, Indigenous, and all people of color that exist in all areas of American life. 


Last fall, the McKeen Center, like many other departments at Bowdoin, outlined a commitment to antiracism that included explicit action items, opportunities for community feedback, and the acknowledgment that there is no version of the common good that exists without the recognition of and active work to end the oppression, marginalization, and threats to Black, Indigenous, and people of color that exist in all areas of American life.  

We are grateful to the staff, students, community partners, and the broad range of individuals and organizations who have supported the McKeen Center’s efforts to identify areas of improvement and implement antiracist practices within our department and programming. The work of disentangling elements of white supremacy from the goals and practices of community engagement and higher education is nuanced, messy, and ever evolving. We are pleased to share the progress that we have made towards the goals we shared last fall, but are keenly aware that these steps are the first in what will be a long road towards existing as an antiracist organization.  

Below, you will see brief updates on our previously identified goals and related programming as well as next steps for the McKeen Center’s antiracism work and ways to share feedback with us. 

Goals from Fall 2020 

  • Hire an Antiracism McKeen Fellow: The McKeen Center hired three Antiracism Fellows who supported staff with projects related to antiracism as well as provided feedback on the department’s initiatives and evolving practices related to antiracism. 
  • Form an Antiracism Staff Committee: A staff committee, comprised of McKeen Center Director Sarah Seames, Associate Director of Service and Leadership Andrew Lardie, and Administrative Coordinator Avery Friend, meets weekly to share updates and resources and to examine current McKeen Center activities and programming through an antiracist lens. Members of the Staff Committee have attended virtual conferences and participated in discussion groups and conversations both on- and off-campus around the topics of racism and antiracism, both broadly and in the context of higher education and community engagement. 
  • Audit all programs to examine where racist policies or practices may currently exist: With support of an Antiracism Fellow, the McKeen Center has sifted through a wealth of existing resources from other organizations and identified frameworks to adapt and create measurable success indicators with which to evaluate our programming, a process which will continue this summer. 
  • Revise the McKeen Center's learning goals to include antiracismAfter discussion with staff, students, and other stakeholders, the McKeen Center has drafted a Vision Statement specific to antiracism that exists separately from but in conjunction with existing learning goals. 
  • Identify and build relationships with organizations doing antiracism work in local communities: With the support of Antiracism Fellows, McKeen Center staff connected with organizations in the Greater Mid Coast Area and throughout Maine to share our goals, learn what measures have been successful for them, and seek ways to collaborate going forward. 

Additional Updates: 

  • Developed ongoing professional development initiatives for all McKeen Center staff including monthly all-staff meetings focusing on different elements of antiracism work as well as triannual staff retreats focused on action-oriented antiracism goals.  
  • Partnered with SWAG and the Student Center for Multicultural Life for the “Race and the Criminal Justice System” series, which included two events in the fall: “Race, Crime, and COVID-19” and “On the Ground: A Panel on Criminal Justice Reform with Young Alumni”. 
  • Hosted the first Antiracism Volunteering Workshop, which was developed in conjunction with Eduardo Pazos, assistant dean for diversity and inclusion, to provide students with resources related to antiracism in community engagement. 
  • Created a paid Social Justice Fellowship for the summer of 2021. 
  • Developed a protocol for reporting racist experiences in McKeen Center spaces and in the community. 

Current Goals 

  • Complete the programming audit using the framework of measurable success indicators drafted by McKeen Center staff and McKeen Fellows. 
  • Adapt the Antiracism Volunteering Workshop to be used in trainings for student leaders and program participants. 
  • Edit job descriptions for professional and student staff to include antiracism and examine what existing work may need change to make room for antiracism work.
  • Continue to seek connections with community partners who are doing antiracism work and/or would like to collaborate with the McKeen Center on antiracism efforts. 

We remain dedicated to providing space, resources, and support to all members of the Bowdoin community in our collective commitment to the work of antiracism and dismantling white supremacist systems. We welcome your feedback throughout this process. You may share your thoughts with the McKeen Center directly via this link. All responses will be anonymous, though you are free to include your name and contact information if you would like a staff member to follow up. We welcome any thoughts, information, and/or suggestions from current students, alumni, community partners, and/or anyone else who has engaged with the McKeen Center over the years.  

If you have experienced an act of bias (as defined by Bowdoin below), you may submit a Bias Incident Report through the Campus and Community Index. Learn more about the College's Bias Incident Response Protocol here.