Last week, The Sophian reported on the deterioration of race relations in Baldwin House and the administration’s response. We received some letters from residents, recounting their experiences of racism du jour — one of a black student who ate lunch alone at the designated Baldwin table, while another had started a new table of white residents; another of a group of students of color, introduced to a prospective student as “some others” by a resident; and countless more. Admittedly, these letters were hard to read, and we admire and respect the time and energy it took for each of these residents, who asked to remain anonymous, to write to us.
Smith is dedicated per its mission to an “inclusive, equitable and accessible educational community founded on the free and open exchange of ideas,” and this is probably why many of us choose to come to Smith — for the promise of an educational experience free of the barriers of the “outside” world, one where every voice matters. The behavior of certain students to alienate anyone based on any facet of their identity is in direct conflict with this mission, even if it is done unknowingly. The Sophian condemns any such actions — and anyone who idly stands by is complicit in the atmosphere this has created not just in Baldwin but all across this campus.
We laud the tireless efforts of the Office of Residence Life faculty and the Office of Inclusion, Diversity and Equity under Dwight Hamilton’s leadership; however, there are forces within this institution that ensures perpetrators of this behavior will not be held accountable for their actions. This won’t change with new policies and procedures — this changes with awareness, with bystander action and by holding each of us accountable to the highest of standards.
We hope last week’s article can start some much-needed dialogue about what an inclusive campus looks like — the events of last year were a beginning to an ongoing conversation that is imperative to the future of this institution.
Students of color (as well as students of differing genders, sexualities, incomes, religions and so on), we at The Sophian hear you. We are heartbroken by your pain — by the fact that you don’t feel at home at Smith — and we promise to hold this college accountable on every level, to ensure this is a place where everyone can study, learn and grow.
Do you have stories of microaggressions on campus you would like to share? Email them to firstname.lastname@example.org.