Over the course of this semester, student activism has sprung forth on a number of different college campuses, most recently at the University of Missouri. Student protests and rallies have been conducted at Mizzou, drawing attention to the racism that has historically pervaded the campus. In the wake of particular incidents that have arisen this academic year, a group of 11 students, named Concerned Student 1950 in recognition of the year which the first Black student was accepted to the University of Missouri, drew up a list of demands for the college including a request to hire more faculty as well as call for the resignation of college president Tom Wolfe who had been quiet about addressing student concerns. This week, in a victory for this student led movement, Wolfe resigned from his position. However, in the wake of this resignation, Black students at Mizzou have been targeted and threatened for their successful activism.
To #ConcernedStudent1950, in response to your courageous organizing of Black students at the University of Missouri, we, the Black community at Wellesley, extend ourselves in gratitude and solidarity. We recognize and identify with your struggle to cultivate a space of inclusion at an institution that was not built for you, but was built on your backs. Our hearts are heavy with the knowledge that it took Black members of the football team refusal to play, Jonathan Butler compromising his body through a hunger strike, and media attention for the members of the administration to respond to your concerns.
We rejoice at the resignation of Tim Wolfe. We are saddened that the previous organizing and concerns of our Black siblings, specifically the Black queer women of Mizzou, that gave momentum to the demonstrations of Jonathan Butler and the football team were ignored by Mizzou administration. Black bodies should not have to be abused or compromised, be it in the form of a hunger strike, protesters getting hit by the vehicle that Tim Wolfe was in, or the Mizzou student athletes going on strike, in order for Black people to be respected.
We recognize that the inadequacy of the administration of Mizzou to respond to the needs of its Black students is not an isolated event. A culture of unresponsiveness to Black issues has existed for a long time in institutions of higher education. We, similarly, have fallen victim to administrative unresponsiveness to our concerns regarding racism at Wellesley College.
Mizzou, we appreciate every aspect of your organizing, no matter to what degree the general public deems it “respectable”. We honor your fight and want to show solidarity by furthering your effort. We, like you, will not stand silent.
Wellesley College, you are not exempt. It is time that we reflect on how we are complicit in an institution that excludes and ignores its students of color, particularly its Black students. The $500 million fundraising campaign, the Wellesley Effect, claims to promote “Intellectual Community,” “Affordability and Access,” “A Sense of Place,” and “21st Century Impact.” To the Wellesley administration, how do you plan to make these ideals reality without engaging your current students of color? Are you actively reaching out to and recruiting students of color, or are you okay with having a population comprised of a measly 6% of Black students? What are your plans for making Wellesley more affordable? Providing students with a greater loan package? When will you create a “Sense of Place”? How will you create this without sufficient spaces of gathering for students of color? We ask Wellesley to do better to actively include and protect us, the Black students of Wellesley College, as integral parts of this institution. We will not be diminished to statistics to fulfill quotas. If you want diversity, Wellesley, you must create it by working harder to admit students of color and creating an environment that affords us the resources necessary to thrive.
We ask our peers to engage and stand with us. We encourage the entire Wellesley community to wear Black tomorrow, November 12, 2015, to show their solidarity with students at Mizzou and with Black students everywhere who are fighting against “administrative neglect, abuse of power, and a lack of adequate resources.” The resignation of toxic officials at the University of Missouri will not resolve the racist culture at your institution, but could be the beginning to structural change that would allow you to live freely as students and as people. We are concerned students and we stand united.
Ethos Political Action Committee
November 11, 2015