Take the necessary actions as requested by current students to confront issues of institutional racism on campus, and to create an environment safe for all students.
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October 8th, 2014
To Students, Alumni, Staff, Faculty, President Cassidy, and the Board of Trustees of Bryn Mawr College:
As graduates of Bryn Mawr College, a stellar liberal arts institution recognized for graduating strong-minded women into activism and the public service, we are expressing our solidarity with students, staff, and faculty who have participated inthe various peaceful demonstrations on campus. These community actions are in response to the prideful display of the confederate flag by current students within the common areas and in view of the dormitory halls.
The confederate flag represents historical roots of oppression, hate, bigotry, and violence towards non-white people in the United States. The flag’s public display, regardless of intent, minimizes Bryn Mawr College’s intellectualism, its reputation as a progressive space, and its brand as a nurturing environment that allows all students to reach their highest potentials. We are sending love, light, prayers, and energy to our Bryn Mawr Community, because confronting racism in any space and on any level is physically and emotionally exhausting.
Today, as working professionals and Bryn Mawr College alumni, we also express our deep concern for the delay of an appropriate response by the institution’s administration. We are alarmed that the students involved in these incidents have suffered no defined consequences for their hurtful actions. They have inflicted harm on the Bryn Mawr Community, and the institution’s silence is passive acquiescence of these students’ actions. We urge you to continue to address the Bryn Mawr Community publicly, condemn these actions, and suspend these students from any political or athletic positions they currently hold until full accountability of actions has taken place. This can include restorative approaches that the students involved may use to repair the harm they have caused to the larger community. We also urge you to use this event as a launching pad for campus wide growth and development. This event goes beyond the two women who were directly involved in the act. It is time to consider large scale effective programming that includes faculty, staff and students participating in an anti-racism training or perhaps having all members of the campus community take part in a service project for the campus that examines manifestations of contemporary racism and privilege. If outside expertise is needed to embark on this journey the time to seek it out is now. It is time for Bryn Mawr College’s administration to act in concrete ways.
Unfortunately, these types of incidents recur at Bryn Mawr College (Blackface theme for a Halloween Party in 2008, Ching Chong Song in 2007), and these events are examples of the more obvious forms of racism and discrimination that students of color face on campus. In our experience as former students, we have found that these types of incidents have been poorly handled in the past and have contributed to a growing culture at Bryn Mawr that undermines and excludes people of color. As administrators, you have an opportunity to write a different chapter in Bryn Mawr’s history and to be deliberate about creating a different kind of culture at the college. You are also required to investigate these incidents. We believe it is the responsibility of Bryn Mawr’s administration to act immediately and directly in any and all cases where students face discrimination, which results in their feeling unsafe.
As alumni, we continue the College’s spirit of activism. We recognize that work on issues of race, racism, diversity, and multiculturalism is a constant work in progress. We are committed to making Bryn Mawr an inclusive institution of learning. In addition to the academic learning students acquire, we aspire to have Bryn Mawr students graduate with their eyes open to ideas of racial and social justice, and to learn that building community is strengthened by appreciating the diversity of experiences and cultures that individuals bring to the table. We know this work is challenging, and as alumni, we are committed and invested in assisting in whatever way you need us to. We back the principle and scope of the demands that current student leaders have set forth as they intimately know the community they seek to fulfill.
While we are saddened to see ongoing hurtful incidents targeting students of color, we see an opportunity for the administration to move from a position of neglect and passiveness to decisive action. We stand with the community in unity and in solidarity. We have every faith that the necessary steps shall be taken and that one day Bryn Mawr will be able to provide an open, welcoming and safe environment for women of all backgrounds.
Paula Arboleda, ‘05
Akudo Ejelonu, ‘05
Yinnette Sano, ‘05
Dinu Ahmed, ‘08
Shayna Israel, ‘08
Britt Fremstad, ‘08
Janique Parrott, ‘08
Kathy Huynh, ‘09
Zanny Alter, '09
Nikki López, '10
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