Mills Women of color and their white allies celebrated the grand
opening of the long awaited Solidarity Lounge last Friday
After a year of intense student activism and controversy to
secure the lounge, students, faculty, administrators and alumnae
welcomed the arrival of the women of color-centered space.
The evening opened with the symbolic cutting of the red ribbon,
followed by speeches from key participants and supporters of the
President Jan Holmgren was unable to attend the event, but sent
her regards in letterform, presented by visiting Women’s Studies
professor Margo Okazawa-Rey.
She said, “The Solidarity Lounge is a new stage in Mill’s
commitment to every student.”
She also expressed her reassurance that the lounge will serve as
powerful addition to Mill’s commitment to cross- cultural learning
and appreciation of difference.
Following the president’s address, student leaders, as well as
faculty and staff supporters, expressed enthusiasm for the
“It’s been a long fight and a long struggle to get here…We are
a majority. We have a right to this space,” said Dean of Ethnic
Studies Julia Sudbury.
She also stated the majority-standing people of color have in
the state of California and applauded the high statistics of women
of color at Mills.
The evening concluded with performances by students and
Director of Student Diversity Programs Lisa McRipley, Senior Joi
Liu, Junior Ebony Cain and graduate student Jennifer Ortiz
coordinated the event, which drew a large crowd of supporters.
For McRipley this reassures that the commitment and hard work of
the student voice will be heard and can affect change at Mills.
“I remember when I was ridiculed for doing research to find out
why women of color were leaving Mills,” said Ortiz. “No one wanted
to believe that race was an issue at Mills. This space is an
acknowledgment that racism does exist and Mills is willing to help
women of color do something about it.”
“Now, we can grow to be the women that we can truly be,” said
LeAnna Perez, senior and ASMC president.
“I feel great support from Mills now and a lot more at home,”
said Sophomore Gloria Espinosa.
Alumna Rufiena Jones, a performer that evening, looked forward
to the possibilities. “This place is really powerful because even
before there was a solidarity lounge, Mills women of color were
doing wonderful work in the world, so imagine the possibilities
with a space like solidarity lounge.”
As for future plans for the Solidarity Lounge, Acting Dean of
Admissions, Myrt Witcomb said,”We [Office of Admissions] will
definitely being using this space as an incentive to attract
perspective women of color and white women allies to Mills
In the more recent future students can expect the showing of the
movie “Bowling for Columbine,” followed by a discussion.
Also planned are monthly meetings for dialogue between faculty
and students to continue the organization and growth of women of
color. Dates and time for these activities too be announced in the