Over the past few weeks, the fight against racism in higher education has been in an uproar. From the incidents at University of Missouri, to the “white girl party” at Yale, to the resignation of Claremont McKenna College’s dean, to the threats placed on Howard University’s Black students, students of color have been making a claim on their educational experiences in higher education.
How does Mills fit into the conversation of race and racism in colleges and universities?
Mills has had a long history of fighting for social justice, particularly for students of color. Over the past 50 years, students of color have had to work and cause major protests to even be heard on our campus. Mills students are still working to heal from the damage done from the racist post on the now defunct Mills College Confessions page two years ago.
Because of this history that we refuse to ignore, we understand the issues, causes and effects that have been reported on at the University of Missouri, Yale, Claremont McKenna, Howard and all the colleges and universities that have experienced and are currently experiencing this.
We recognize our place as students at Mills, especially in this conversation. At the same time we also notice the conversations that need to be held about race and higher education. While we are aware of what happened, we feel that the issues on our campus were not (and are still not) properly handled and addressed.
Even with the controversy revolving the proposed curriculum changes, marginalized students — from students of color to low-income students — still feel that their voices are not heard in this issue or are heard in departments that hold inequities towards them. There have been multiple discussions about this issue with the curriculum changes in mind. Students have debated about the place of intersectionality in the departments and conversations, whether it has a place in the administration’s decisions, and so on.
In regards to fitting ourselves into the conversation of race and racism in higher education, we realize that while our incidents have happened a while ago, it still was not TOO long ago. These isolated incidents and quick reactions at the college campuses show how much we share with them. At the same time, the difference between these campuses and us are the quick responses. After two years, we are still healing from our issues, while other campuses are taking immediate action to work for progress.
As students on this campus, we agree that more needs to be done to bring this matter to the forefront for us not to allow it to be forgotten. We cannot just focus on one issue at a time whenever something happens. Students of color have voices on this campus, voices that should matter.
The incidents at University of Missouri, Yale, Claremont McKenna, and so on, should fuel us even more to bring more focus on marginalized people and their experiences on campus. In particular, Mills needs to include itself in this dialogue with its own experiences to dismantle something that has been working against marginalized people for a long period of time. We still have to perfect ourselves within the standard that Mills College is known for: the want and fight for social justice.