Re-enrol Orealla Felix-Smith in LUC
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It has come to our attention that Orealla Felix-Smith’s appeal to re-enrol in LUC after failing to pay her tuition fees on time has been rejected. This letter serves as a call by the student body for the College Board to reconsider this decision. As the executive organ of LUC, the Board is responsible for many things, including “student care”, and maintaining the fundamental qualities LUC was founded upon. It is our belief that by re-enrolling Orealla, the board would be operating more in line with these ideals, than if it were to continue along this path. It is imperative that the board seriously considers our perspective, as both Orealla’s peers, and an essential constituent of the LUC community. We would also like to inform you that Orealla has not asked us to write this letter, although she has permitted us to send this to you. She has helped us understand the situation by sending us the objection letter written by the CB. We would first like to ask you to specifically reconsider sections 1 and 2 of the objection letter, namely: Breach of the social honour code and reach of the privacy law. We then want to explain the myriad reasons why Orealla provides a valuable contribution to this community, and exemplifies LUC’s unique character.
1. Breach of the social honour code
The LUC Social Honour Code states,“Each Student will not affect any behaviour or action that threatens the physical, psychological, or social well-being of others, including but not limited to harassment, discrimination, intimidation, violence, theft, and vandalism.” The POC community here at Leiden University College has suffered most of these issues at some point or other. Racism and ethnically-discriminatory discourse are unfortunately abundant within this institution. As you may be aware, Orealla circulated a list of such quotes to the LUC community recently, as a way to open people’s eyes to the gravity of the situation. We had provided her with those quotes ourselves – it is painfully difficult to forget such comments once someone has said them to us.
Given the other explicitly racist incidents that have recently taken place, (see: https://www.leidschdagblad.nl/cnt/dmf20191009_86261519/weer-racisme-incident-bij-leidse-universiteit?utm_source=google&utm_medium=organic and https://www.leidschdagblad.nl/cnt/dmf20180906_22533737/studenten-security-studies-brengen-hitlergroet?utm_source=google&utm_medium=organic the way that the Board deals with this situation has far reaching implications regarding the feelings of safety for the POC in LUC. Being a student of a minority race or ethnicity in such an environment takes an unbelievable toll on all of our emotional and psychological well-being, though not all of us share the burden equally. While we may not all agree with Orealla’s methods, all of us acknowledge her efforts to empower the POC community at LUC, and to ensure our voices are heard when no one is willing to listen to them. We are therefore saddened to see the use of this clause of the honour code against Orealla, as it demonstrates a lack of acknowledgement of the persistent issues that we have tried to bring to your attention. Moreover, using this clause against a vocal POC can be perceived as the Board paying a disproportionate amount of attention to the “attacks” against the white majority at LUC, while neglecting those that have been made time and again against minority students. While we do understand this is not the intention of the Board, removing a POC who provides a valuable contribution to the “globally conscious and … diverse community” LUC prides itself upon is (), in our opinion, an extreme measure.
Furthermore, although we understand the importance of privacy, we consider it unfair that the LUC staff should take such a hard stance against us using their quotes allegedly “out of context,” while doing the same with Orealla’s tweets. As friends and peers of Orealla, having had frequent discussions with her about the very issues you mention in the honour code, we recognise that the tweets she has posted do not come without a context, and the context is rather understandable given the extent and frequency of racist incidents in Leiden University’s classrooms. We believe that you have interpreted her tweets with a certain preconceived notion of their gravity and of her principles and ideals. As her friends of a younger generation, we can assure you that yours is one of many perspectives, and in our eyes, her tweets were never meant to be taken with the seriousness with which you seem to
have interpreted them. We urge you to take your own advice and consider the context: that of her belonging to a younger generation, of satire, cultural differences, and of colloquialism before using these tweets against her. You will find a number of Orealla’s white friends and peers who see little or no problem with her tweets having signed this letter. We are by no means encouraging or endorsing tokenism, but we hope that you will accept this as additional testimony to the absence of genuine malice in Orealla’s tweets.
2. Breach of the privacy law
We understand that such actions as the ones Orealla committed are illegal in the Netherlands, but it is hopefully clear, now, to all parties concerned that it was not done with the knowledge that it is illegal. Her methods may be radical, but they would never intentionally transcend the boundaries of legality. Voice recording without consent in India, for example, is weighed against public interest and the extent of the breach of privacy, making it a matter highly subjective in nature. It is unclear to us why this issue has been brought up again, despite the other party not pressing charges and Orealla having attended the necessary meetings and sessions for the discussion of this matter. It was a mistake, one which she was honest about, and to re-introduce this matter as a reason to object to her re-enrolment seems like unnecessary, if not excessive, castigation.
We respectfully urge you to think about how radical actions, such as some of the ones undertaken by Orealla, may be a result of frustration rather than a result of prejudice and consider a less harsh response.
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