2020 has brought social issues to the sight of many Bolles community member’s eyes. Over the summer, amidst the fervor of the Black Lives Matter movement, Bolles admin became aware of racial issues and concerns at school. During this time period, President Hodges released several statements, Mrs. Ashman was promoted to Director of Diversity and Inclusion at all Bolles campuses, the Black at Bolles Instagram account began, and a new, notable alumni group formed.
This new organization, named Black Bolles Alumni Group (BBAG), works to help the school create an inclusive environment and works to support Black students through mentoring and networking.
Justice Dixon (‘16), Board Chairman and Director of Communications for BBAG, is one of the founders of the group. The group came about in early June when a few like-minded Black alum, like president Christian Johnson (‘09) and vice president Melanie Hapner (‘07), were inspired by the dialogue started by the Black Lives Matter and Black at Bolles movements.
Dixon explained the Black Bolles Alumni Group origins clearly, “This group actually came after the Black at Bolles Instagram page. We are not associated with them in any way. Despite us (BBAG) having our own mission and objectives, the group (Black at Bolles) did have a positive impact on the dialogue by getting the conversation started.”
One of the most important aspects of diversity and inclusion is starting a dialogue and Dixon, as well as the members of BBAG and Bolles admin, understands that it can be uncomfortable conversation. “We recognize that the path moving forward, and the dialogue we will be having with the Bolles community will be long and at some times, uncomfortable to talk about.”
The group acknowledges that the path to inclusion and support for minority students will be a long walk and conversations with Bolles admin, like Mrs. Ashman and Mr. Trevett, have already begun.
As of press time, the BBAG has met with the admin on three occasions. “I really do feel like they (Bolles) are genuine about wanting to grow as an institution,” Dixon explained, “Again, they acknowledge that this is not going to happen overnight, and we will all have to learn.”
Mr. Trevett, the Bolles Alumni Relations Officer, has met with the BBAG several times and has been in contact with several board members. “We look forward to further conversations as this is a wonderful opportunity to come together and share positive experiences.”
All in all, the Black Bolles Alumni Group looks forward to helping Bolles grow into a more inclusive and diverse institution. Dixon points out that inclusion does not just start on the administrative level. He suggests that students check in on their classmates, especially if they realize their friends may not be doing well emotionally. “All the BBAG is trying to do is get people within the Bolles community to extend that courtesy outside of their close friend group.”