When I first saw posts on Facebook regarding white supremacist stickers I was disheartened and felt a sense of hopelessness. This made me question, what intentions does this person have and does this person attend the same institution as I. I did not feel that my personal safety was at threat however, I was worried for those who did share that concern within the community. I felt guilty that students felt unsafe following the incident while I have never questioned my safety on campus.
I first felt this sense of security at SMC on Accepted Students Day three years ago when I flew from Austria and was greeted by welcoming students in the -20 F weather. With people holding doors, smiling at one another, and laughing as they walk across the quad in a foot a snow, I knew that I would accept the offer. Now I wonder as I cross the quad, how people’s experience is different than mine while at Saint Mike’s because their lives have been riddled with racism.
The St. Michael’s College experience is unique in that there is a network of students, faculty, and staff who come together to embody that sense of community and security that I felt even before attending. I heavily rely on my peers and professors for academic and personal advice. My daily interactions in Alliot, the classrooms, and across campus for the past three years have all confirmed the reason I’m at St. Mike’s. I knew that I had found my sense of belonging and ultimately my place to call home.
I worry that we are not doing enough to have that feeling reach everyone. There are some individuals who do not feel welcome on a daily basis and especially, when incidents such as this past one occurs. I have heard about countless insults and harassments reported from minority groups here who feel that they are being targeted.
I’m not guilty of the racism, but I wonder if I’m part of a larger problem.
Often individuals overlook issues not directly affecting them. Students, staff, and faculty must support one another when there are challenging times. Rather than avoid the uncomfortable racial elephant in the room by talking about the weather or your insane amount of homework, ask your friends and other students how they are doing when something like the white supremacist stickers occurs, as something similar is bound to occur again. Doing little acts can make the biggest impact. We have a moral obligation to attend to what others may be experiencing and how to have open dialogue to try to make things better for them.
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