Two weeks ago, almost 200 Mills women sat down outside of the board of trustees meeting, covered their mouths with tape, and stayed in silent protest over their view that they are being ignored by the Board of Trustees and administration.
The students who organized the protest presented a three-page-long list of grievances to board members as they exited their closed meeting. As the list is too long to reprint here, we are posting the full list online with this editorial. We at The Weekly declare our full support for the women at the protest, and the issues that they are pushing.
President Holmgren’s statement that “the tape is symbolically counter to what Mills stands for: being able to speak your mind and have your voice heard” makes it clear that she obviously missed the point. While Mills should stand for having your voice heard, the protest made it obvious that Mills women do not feel that their voices are being heard, or if they are, not being listened to.
Time and time again the administration has told the student body that they are listening, and time and time again we as students have seen nothing change. The lack of diversity in faculty, lack of facilities and programs for students and continued problems with campus safety are just a few issues that students have been told are being dealt with, only to see them patched with superficial solutions.
Dining services, for example, has been a point of complaint for years. This semester saw the much awaited re-opening of Suzie’s, only to then see the hours of the Tea Shop dramatically cut back. This has resulted in students having less food choice at night than ever before. While food may seem a small problem on campus when compared to bigger issues like diversity, discrimination and ADA accessibility, the lack of access to food is just another example of the lack of consideration the administration shows for students.
We are a school steeped in tradition, from tea parties to political protests. As President Holmgren said, “demonstrating is very much a part of the Mills tradition.” And in the past, this “tradition” has worked in our favor, notably in the 1991 Board of Trustees attempt to make Mills a co-ed school. We can only hope that the trustees and administration still respect students enough to pay attention to our demonstrations.
We call on President Holmgren, whose resume is heavy with awards, honorary degrees and board seats due to her work with women, to take note of the women at the school she runs. We are tired of fighting our own administration over issues that they say they think are important. We want to believe them, but actions speak louder than words, and lately the administration has been heavy on words, and light on action.
We hope that the Board of Trustees and the administration will allow the students to take the tape off their mouths soon, and not just hear what the students have to say, but listen to them.