Something so wonderful has happened on the Mills campus that I now feel obligated to report. Three weeks ago Campanil columnist Sandhya Dirks sat in on a private discussion in a class where she helps to teach students the in’s and out’s of journalism. After discussing proposition 4, which would require girls to tell their parents if they are going to have an abortion, Dirks did not agree with the way opinions were shared.
Unbeknownst to the students and the professor, Sandhya published her very biased depiction of the discussion where an imaginary class filled with ‘two buck chuck’s and ‘loud angels’ ganged up on white women.
While her argument about reverse racism is most worthy of discussion, Dirks accusatory attitude and loaded language enraged all races within the class as well as around campus. Without knowing, she undermined her own argument as she eagerly attempted to stir up discussions of racism, perhaps due to boredom, without realizing that she was calling to arms women all over Mills and exploiting girls who trusted in the safety of the class.
It’s unfortunate that we don’t always think before we speak about the power of print and how such few words can cause such real emotions.
On the other hand, once we sift through her poorly chosen adjectives, we arrive at the gem that she has unknowingly created for us. The real lesson here is that perhaps we are too eager to turn every conflict into a racially based crisis. Sometimes, we say the wrong thing not because we are white or because we are black, but because we are learning and sometimes we get things wrong.
The class would like the campus to know that the discussion which took place so many weeks ago was one of the most touching and life-impacting discussions that most students had ever had at Mills. Women from different walks of life found themselves in the same room and through the grace, composure and respect that they already possessed from the many places they had come from, they strongly believed in each other’s right to their own opinion. While some girls may not have agreed with others, everyone got a chance to speak and everybody was heard not only with respect, but with love and an acknowledgment of the uniqueness of their life experience. For this beautiful instance of bonding to be misrepresented is not only a sad injustice that must be fixed but is also unethical. Students in the class have compared Sandhya’s exploitation of a private Mills discussion being rehashed and misrepresented in the student newspaper to a columnist sitting in on an Alcoholic Anonmyous meeting in search of a juicy story for a deadline. Other students feel Sandhya deeply misunderstood her role in the class and was not aware that she was breaking the confidentiality agreement. However, the class would also like to impart that so much has been gained from this great experience that after this letter is read by the Mills community no more action against Sandyha or the article that she wrote shall be directly taken by any member of the class. While not all the students accept her apology, we do not believe that any Mills student should be made to feel uncomfortable on her own campus and we support Sandhya’s right to feel welcomed here and also loved for her intentions to defend someone she truly thought was being attacked.
There is no need for resentment when this campus is filled with all different kinds of races, ethnicities, genders, economic backgrounds- just to name a few. It’s inevitable that heads will bump and insecurities will blossom as such a diverse population helps to shine light on each other’s ignorance because the more we sit in class like ticking time bombs overanalyzing everyone’s comments and jumping to conclusions that all our peers are racist- the farther we get from learning.
Can we change? I say ‘Yes we can’!