By Sam Carlen & Kailey Favaro
The SGA Task force on Anti-Racism (STAR) held its first active event on campus, intended to remind students about the racist acts that initially spurred last spring’s activism. The May 8 event titled “One Year Later: Now What?” drew over 200 students, faculty and alumni to Tomson 280 to listen to testimonials and speakers, as well as ask questions.
“This event is not about dwelling in self pity,” said Joey Dagher ’20, one of the STAR student leaders. “It’s about recapturing the emotions we felt during the sit-in.”
The event focused on continuing the dialogue about racism and inclusion, that according to STAR and the Collective for Change on the Hill, dwindled since the events of last spring. Students read anonymous testimonials reported on the Collective for Change on the Hill’s website, voicing accounts of racism in its many manifestations.
Joan Hepburn, Associate Professor of English and prominent figure in the movement, then spoke about her own difficulties as a faculty of color on St. Olaf’s campus. She discussed the pushback she and other activists have faced from the College administration. Hepburn also told the audience about the Working Group on Equity and Inclusion’s lack of response to her questions and comments, and notified the audience of her written response to the Group’s report (now published on the Manitou Messenger website).
After Hepburn spoke, Associate Professor of English Jennifer Kwon Dobbs spoke about the importance of the General Education (GE) Task Force in influencing issues of equity and racism. Dobbs noted that the Task Force was considering scrapping the History of Western Culture (HWC) GE requirement, and encouraged students to let professors know what they think about the GE requirements.
The faculty members present along with members of the Collective urged students to report all acts of racism and hate so that the administration understands that these acts are not anomalies.
Visit www.acollectiveforchangeonthehill.com to read testimonials or report acts of racism to the group. To report racist acts to the College administration, visit the webpage titled ‘Incidents of Bias, Harassment, and Hate Crimes’ on the St. Olaf website. To report racist acts to the Manitou Messenger, visit www.manitoumessenger.com/documenting-hate/.
Correction: In the original and print version, we misrepresented a statement by Professor Jennifer Kwon Dobbs: “Dobbs noted that the Task Force was considering scrapping the History of Western Culture (HWC) GE requirement, and encouraged students to let professors know what they think about the GE requirements.” A better representation is that “The task force was facilitating conversations about GE requirements for example, HWC. Including a range of approaches.”