By Sharada Balachandran
Despite their rapidly increasing presence, women of color at Mills say that their interests are often still overlooked, and they are now focusing on raising their visibility.
Top on their list of proposed projects is the creation of a diversity house-where they can have a safe space to organize and support each other.
“Unlike previous attempts to get a diversity house at Mills, this time we have a set plan and set goals that we feel will achieve our goal,” said sophomore Riana Shaw.
The plan to set up a diversity house came at the recent annual Women of Color retreat organized by Lisa McRipley, director of student diversity programs. Women from diverse ethnic backgrounds discussed the possibility of establishing a diversity house in order to enhance their college experience.
Other objectives tackled were plans to develop community outreach and the establishment of a visibility committee. There are plans to set up various events on the Mills campus for the people of surrounding neighborhoods.
“We need to increase visibility for women of color so that the college knows that we are here and need to be acknowledged,” said Shaw.
The visibility committee is planning for events being held as early as today. At the Health Fair, the visibility committee and its supporters will be wearing orange arm bands to raise awareness of the need for a diversity house. In addition, the women of color will be holding a potluck on Monday and extend their invitation to all who want to show support and join the festivities.
Though officials estimate that 42 percent of entering students this year identified as persons of color, many students still believe that their voices are not heard. Students are therefore organizing in order to increase racial awareness on the Mills College campus.
“The objective was for women of color to come together to form coalitions and alliances and truly be an avenue of support for each other,” said McRipley. “At the end of the first day, students were able to come together for action and strategy to make Mills a campus they would like to be a part of.”
“It is an empowering experience to unite with other women of color,” said Sophomore Ebony Cain. “We can take that back to the community at Mills.”
The retreat was hailed as a success by both the organizers and students.
“A lot of changes are going to take place,” added Junior Monique Parker “This is the beginning of a lot of things to come,” she said.