As students at Mills College, we look to our school to nurture us, to protect our safety and well-being and to foster the community in which many of us find a family and a home away from home. We expect our fellow friends and community members, like ourselves, to be embraced by a caring network of staff and administrators, and supported through personal struggles when they are most vulnerable and in need of help.
We say all of this because a member of our community -Charlotte Riggert, a Mills senior who has resided in campus housing throughout her schooling – has recently been endangered by an abusive relationship.
Our Mills sister, who is struggling to extricate herself from a painful situation, should have the full benefit of living with the people that have given her love and support for the past four years. Instead, an exemplary Mills student was evicted from her home in Larsen House, and her housing contract revoked when Mills decided her relationship was a threat to fellow students living with Riggert.
It is unacceptable that she should be subjected to an unnecessarily hurtful and obfuscating administrative process that has exacerbated emotional distress not only for herself, but for those who care about her. In addition to tackling her academic classwork, working as a copy chief for The Campanil and completing her senior thesis, she faces homelessness and the uncertainty of a mentally ill and abusive ex-partner possibly looking for her on or off the Mills campus. This is unreasonably compromising her safety and security in a time when she needs it the most.
The solution to this situation is not to punish Riggert by expelling her from her campus residence.
Instead, Mills should put the resources and commitment into maintaining an adequate number of campus safety officers trained to respond seriously to dangerous situations. They must consistently enforce bans they create and involve higher law enforcement authorities without delay or deception when they are needed by students.
All students deserve to be protected on this campus by competent security and increased surveillance, not diverted from the problem by band-aid measures that alienate and divide such victims of endangerment.
In the meantime, we must unite together behind our fellow Mills woman as a community full of safety and trust, so that she can begin the road to healing in a supportive environment.