We began this semester on a solemn note, reflecting on the life and grieving the loss of a fellow Mills woman whose life was abruptly shortened by domestic violence. In retrospect, it left me wondering if as an institution and community of her peers, there was anything more we could have done to intervene or support her. The campus responded with support for her family and a desire to create domestic violence awareness and support services.
Ironically, we are ending the semester with a fellow Mills sister who finds herself not in too different of a situation as Tumi had been in. According to the student, the College has been actively involved in trying to protect her and the Mills community from the abusive party, and supporting her up to a point. The current outcome of the abusive party repeatedly harassing the student and her housemates has resulted in the student being expelled from her campus living community – potentially cutting her off from her support system and College officials’ ability to monitor her safety.
In less than a week’s notice before the Thanksgiving break, she was forced to relocate with little reason given for the severity of the sanction. The student has asked for a judicial hearing as is guaranteed her in the student handbook and has been denied. The student has sought out ASMC representation that have spoken on her behalf and they have also been denied explanation of the sanction or process in which the student may appeal the decision.
I am most concerned whether this is a situation where the school feels that the proper way of dealing with the problem is by removing it from their sight, while leaving the student in a more vulnerable situation than before. In a domestic violence situation, one of the most important things is for the individual to not be isolated and to have continuous support from those who are aware of their situation. Given the personal knowledge we as a college all now have of the potential outcomes of this kind of violence, we know better. We have no excuses for looking the other way. What if something we could have potentially prevented happened to this student? We have been given an opportunity to step up and step in to support a fellow Mills sister in crisis.
We shouldn’t have to wait to lose another Mills sister to realize we are all invested in ensuring the safety of everyone at Mills. We need to not be silenced by this kind of violence. Our Mills sister, as well as the campus community, deserve sufficient answers for her removal, and our Mills sister needs our continuous support regardless of the outcomes of her living situation.
-Tracy Peerson-Faye, senior and ASMC Women’s Resource Chair
The author would like to credit Steffi Zarifis and Misrak Kassa for their help in writing this piece.