By Ashley DeLeon
On behalf of the Martin Luther King Jr. Society of Saint Michael’s College, we would like to publicize our outrage and disapproval of the use of a derogatory racial reference during the campus-wide Day of Reflection.
On Tuesday, February 18, during the second workshop hosted by the Center for Peace and Justice located in Burlington, Vermont, a staff member used a deeply offensive epithet to a crowd of hundreds gathered in the gym of the Ross Sports Center. This occurred minutes after facilitators outlined the parameters of acceptable and prohibited language for the duration of the workshop. When the staff member uttered the racist term, there was an underwhelming response.
Many students of color have been deeply and emotionally wounded by this incident. Moreover, the disappointing response and lack of intervention worsened its magnitude and manifested angry reactions from many organizations within the Center for
Multicultural Affairs & Services.
This action is antithetical to our mission of promoting racial equity and inclusion within our campus community. We recognize the gravity of this incident and are taking onward action to ensure that students of color are properly represented when the issue is addressed by the College administration. We do not promote, accept, or give credence to this act of racist behavior, and more broadly, any acts of
racism, hatred, and inequality. Furthermore, as students of color are continuously targeted for acts of hatred and racism on campus, we are using this incident as an opportunity to pressure administrative forces to prioritize our exigencies. Paired with the demands of the Student Government Association, we collaboratively strive for equity on this campus and will not cease our demanding pressures until definitive actions are taken to justify this incident.
As stated by the president of the MLK Jr. Society, Jaron Bernire ‘21, “One of MLK Jr. Society’s goals is to have students interact with problems discussing race alienation on our campus; to speak up for someone who doesn’t feel like their voice will be heard is what we enjoy doing the most, and to make every race feel equal on this campus. Bernire further emphasizes that ceasing efforts to work towards equality would represent a failure. However, the campus must worry not, as our efforts will never cease to exist. Vice President, Kayla Erb ‘22, recognizes the profundity of this incident and is actively guiding the response of the MLK Jr. Society, never settling for less than the rightful means of justification.
On behalf of the MLK Jr. society, we would like you to understand that we are emphatically responding to this issue and are taking forceful actions to justify this injustice. As Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “Lightning makes no sound until it strikes.”
Ashley DeLeon ‘22 is a member of the MLK Society at St. Michael’s College.