Tackling on-campus is complicated, here are some practical tips for students looking to create sustainable change.
By Gloria Oladipo
When will this foolishness end? Real talk though. At Cornell University, my current schooling, there have been a number of “racially insensitive incidents”. In the past 4 months “Build a Wall” has been chanted at the Latino Living Center, an African-American student was beaten while being called a “nigger”, and anti-semitic posters were hung up around campus.
Oddly, I don’t feel surprise or shock, but I do feel a constant disappointment that this is the world we live in. Adding onto my disappointment is the lingering feeling that nothing can really be done to make campuses a safer space for marginalized students.
As for the faculty, bureaucracy and hollow olive branches have been the forwarded responses. The main strategy has included plastering fliers reading “Hate has no home here” across campus, as well as the creation of various sub-committees. The student response has been a slew of protests, occupation of board meetings, and lists of demands. While I applaud the actions of students as kinetic compared to the sedentary pace of the faculty’s, all of these actions still leave me wondering: “Is this it?”.
I wanted to write this article as a pseudo-instruction manual to students, trying to suggest strategies to more effectively combat the racial climate on campuses, but then I thought: “I also don’t know what to do.” There is a question I still struggle with: How are we, as students, supposed to actively combat our own feelings of powerlessness by fighting against racism while also acknowledging the structures that prevent true change in the first place? So after curating responses from older folks and different community members, I melded them with my own thoughts to create a shortlist of opinions regarding the role of students:
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