Welcome to Wellesley, Red Hot Class of 2020 and welcome back to Wellesley to those of you who are upperclass students! My name is Sydney Stewart and I am serving on College Government this year as your Multicultural Affairs Coordinator (MAC). In this role, I have the privilege of fostering a climate of multiculturalism, diversity, and inclusion on-campus by chairing the Community Action Network (CAN) and facilitating the Multicultural Presidents’ Council (MPC). Through these forums and Senate, I support students in their distinct cultural needs and serve as a liaison between the College’s administration and the student body.
Last year, my predecessor Ananya Ghemawat ’17 created the Multicultural Column with the hope of centering and amplifying the voices of students of color. The Column provided a space for students to share their opinions on cultural issues, like the need for socially conscious student leaders and the diversity of the African continent.
This year, I would like to expand the platform of the Multicultural Column to be inclusive of the voices of all students from marginalized backgrounds. Professor Selwyn Cudjoe of the Africana Studies Department defined culture to me and my Africana Studies 105 classmates as, “the way we do the things we do.” Merriam-Webster defines culture as, “the beliefs, customs, arts, etc., of a particular society, group, place or time.” With these definitions in mind, I hope students would utilize this space to discuss issues pertaining to culture like race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, religion, ability and topics of interest or importance to the student body.
As Ananya emphasized last spring with the inauguration of this column, cultural issues are relevant to all students. They are relevant because, first and foremost, the concerns of our siblings should be considered by all members of our community, regardless of whether or not we agree with them. Secondly, it is an opportunity for us to learn more about issues we may not be knowledgeable about and to ensure that we do not silo ourselves in our own experiences. When considering the racial demographics of our campus, particularly, and the closed nature of a lot of Wellesley cultural organizations after their open meetings at the beginning of the semester, it is important that we have forums like the Multicultural Column to ensure that members of the Wellesley community are learning about cultural issues outside of the classroom and the organizations they are affiliated with.
In closing, I urge all members of the Wellesley community to read this column and to engage with it. Further, I encourage you to write for the column and contribute to the College’s institutional memory. Issues like cultural appropriation, workplace politics, microaggressions, mental health, sexuality and others are often discussed in conversation, but rarely published in a central forum. Let us celebrate our diversity by coming together around intellectual growth and social awareness.
If you are interested in writing for the Multicultural Column, please reach out to me at the email below. Wellesley is waiting to hear your voice.