Boston Conservatory Addressing Systemic Racism, and Fires Professor, After Multiple Racism Allegations From Students

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Boston Conservatory Addressing Systemic Racism, and Fires Professor, After Multiple Racism Allegations From Students

Systemic racism is being called out by numerous students at the Boston Conservatory at Berklee, according to the Boston Globe.

One professor, Christopher Caggiano, has resigned amid allegations that he mocked Black students and used racial slurs in the classroom for years. He was a theatre history professor at the school for 16 years.

Nearly 2,000 students, alumni, and parents have signed a petition to get Caggiano removed from the school's faculty.

A group of 45 Black students and alumni came together in early June to share their experiences about discrimination at the school and to call for changes to be made.

Complaints against Caggiano ranged from the use of the n-word, showing videos and blackface, and more.

"I deeply regret any discomfort or pain my students experienced in my classes. I am honored to have watched them thrive over the past 16 years," Caggiano said in a statement to the Globe. "My big mistake was assuming that just because I hold liberal views that I could automatically call myself an ally. Now I know that is a distinction that you need to earn."

Following Caggiano's last day, on June 12, the school presented him with a database of students' complaints against him.

"I didn't want to nitpick and say 'this is a mistake,' or 'that's not true,'" he said. "I took a step back and said the most important thing is that I seem to have lost the confidence of the student body and it doesn't really matter which things are true and which aren't true. What matters is my effectiveness as a teacher has been seriously compromised."

In addition to complaints against Caggiano, students said that the school has continuously cast Black students in smaller roles, or even offensive ones such as slaves or prostitutes.

Executive director Cathy Young addressed racism at the school in a Facebook post on June 5, pledging to make changes at the institution including including mandating diversity, antiracism, and anti-bias training for students, faculty and staff; hiring more Black faculty; diversifying the school's performance programming; and ensuring that Black artists and underrepresented voices are "elevated and celebrated."

Read more on Boston Globe.

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