Yesterday, Wellesley Academic Action Movement-Siblings Leading Action for Multiculturalism 2 (WAAM-SLAM2) organized a protest that marched to Green Hall with a list of ten demands for the administration. The group is composed of “Asian, Black, Latin@, Native, Differently-Abled, First-Generation and LGBTQ-identified students at Wellesley College,” as identified in its Transformative Justice and Education Bill, WAAM-SLAM2 calls for the administration to include ethnic and Latin@ studies in the curriculum, create multicultural spaces, increase diversity in the student body and the faculty, meet the needs of LGBTQ and disabled students, provide diversity training for college employees and support dining hall workers and custodial staff, amongst other petitions. As students of a college that prides itself for its diversity, The Wellesley News editorial staff supports WAAM-SLAM2’s efforts to decrease institutional violence at Wellesley.
Many students are unaware of what WAAM-SLAM was in 2001 and of its recent resurgence. This reflects how much of the student body is disconnected with the historical experiences of minority students on this campus. The first step that students need to take in order to contribute to WAAM-SLAM2’s goal of building an equitable campus is by reading the bill the group released on Tuesday.
The Wellesley News staff believes that the proposals put forth to the administration by WAAM-SLAM2 have the potential to change Wellesley for the better, in many aspects. As the group’s bill rightly states, in order to boast of educating students who will “make a difference in the world,” Wellesley must first work to become an exemplary environment of equality.
The Wellesley News has dedicated editorials in support of ethnic studies in the past and restates its support of this initiative, which stands at the top of WAAM-SLAM2’s list of demands. Taking courses in ethnic and Latin@ studies will allow students to better understand the fastest-growing community in the United States and will deter ignorant or discriminatory behavior.
WAAM-SLAM2’s third demand, increasing diversity in student body admissions and financial aid, will also contribute to a campus that stands true to its commitment to support minority students and enrich everyone’s campus experience by enabling students to study in a more equitable environment.
WAAM-SLAM2’s sixth and seventh requests to the administration ask for the diversification of faculty through hiring more faculty of color and providing diversity training to faculty, staff, campus police and administration. Stories about minority students facing discrimination at the hands of white faculty members are not unusual at Wellesley. This perpetuation of discrimination by a white person in position of power is unacceptable and teaches students oppression instead of equality.
Lastly, Wellesley students should support WAAM-SLAM2’s penultimate request to the administration: ensure fair wages and benefits for the dining hall workers and custodial staff. Failing to exhaustively support this art of our community would embody what WAAM-SLAM2 correctly denotes in its bill as “institutional oppression.”
An effort to support faculty employees is hypocritical and incomplete if it is not paired with an effort to support dining hall workers and custodial employees. While the petition could have been limited to student concerns, WAAM-SLAM2 should be commended for considering other Wellesley communities aside from the student body.
As the academic year comes to an end, both extracurricular and academic responsibilities become increasingly time-consuming and demanding for Wellesley students. Nevertheless, the students of WAAM-SLAM2 are dedicating their little free time to this crucial time of social activism. We applaud their drive to give back to our community in an effort to make Wellesley a better place.
The administration should cooperate with this group of student activists and have an open attitude towards their requests. As reported in previous articles, the administration is already working towards the implementation of some of the demands made by WAAM-SLAM2. The student body understands that institutional change does not happen from one day to the next. Several of the aspects of the WAAM-SLAM2 bill have been pending for many years, and it is time for students and the administration to work together towards radical change at Wellesley.