By Vicky Castillo
Firstly, I want to express how grateful I am to go to a school where certain individuals within administration are not only dedicated to fulfilling students’ needs and addressing our concerns, but who are also doing their best to organize events and implement structural changes within the college.
That being said, there is plenty of room for improvement since many of our students of color feel like not enough is being done to make them feel safe, valued, and welcomed on this campus.
One of my largest criticisms of the Day of Learning and Reflection, Feb. 18, 2020 is that seemed to be focused on educating white students about racism, which sort of alienated students of color who felt that this day was not for them and that they had nothing to learn from it; nor did it make a difference in celebrating diversity or addressing the concrete issues of racism that occur and have occurred on campus. One major improvement would be making sure students of color are extensively involved in the planning process of major events like these, and not just the few students of color who are on the Diversity & Inclusion Steering Committee, because they cannot speak for all of their peers.
Although it is not the responsibility of students of color to be on the front lines educating our white students and faculty about racism, we still must be open to working together against racism. Yet, I need to stress the importance of white students understanding the daily struggle of being a student of color on a campus in which 82% of the student body and 90% of faculty and staff are white, and the impact it would have on our entire campus culture if white students and faculty were cognizant of the racism that does exist on campus and were committed to not only working on their own biases and education, but were committed to standing up for one another when microaggressions and other subtle manifestations of racism occur.
You only have to be aware, kind, and courageous enough to speak up. I think that is something everyone is capable of.
Vicky Castillo ’20 is a member of the Civil Rights Alliance.