On the matter of the back gate, I really want to speak up as a community activist and former president of the Fruitvale San Antonio Community Association from 1979-1994. My lower Fruitvale, East Oakland neighborhood is a microcosm of all the urban ails plaguing cities around the world (poverty, murder, drug and sex trafficking, assault) and it is also an example of how people come together to address them.
Much of what I see in some of the neighborhoods surrounding the campus is also reflected in my own, and we have to deal with the absolute reality of the campus and the community which
surrounds us. We also have to deal with the realities of living in a society that all too often fails to provide affordable housing, access to good education and the level of mental health resources needed to support and heal our “walking wounded.”
I do not feel that the closure of the back gate keeps us from interacting with the larger community, for through campus events, Upward Bound and various volunteer programs linking us to a range of communities throughout the Bay Area, Mills is not isolated. While there is a major convenience factor for some in having the gate open, our most vulnerable population (children) on campus is mainly concentrated within a few yards of that back gate. The safety and well-being of all the Mills community is paramount. I think to that end, continuing to welcome visitors at our front gate, host events open to the wider community and rebuilding Community Links into a truly viable project is the way to go at this juncture.
I really don’t think the larger Mills community is aware of the level of interaction that the campus enjoys and thrives off of with organizations, projects and people living right outside the gates and beyond. Just as a closed door does not mean you don’t welcome people into your home, that closed gate does not mean we do not wish to interact with the larger community; in these precarious times, it is an essential measure to support campus safety using resources that are not unlimited.
Women’s Leadership Institute