On Aug. 28, Colorado College President Jill Teifenthaler sent out a letter to Colorado College students. The letter welcomed former students back to campus, welcomed the Class of 2021, and celebrated the new renovations on campus. Despite the optimism of the new academic year, Tiefenthaler also addressed recent events in Charlottesville. “We watched as racism, hate, and violence engulfed Charlottesville. The words and actions of white supremacists, neo-Nazis, and other bigots—spouting hatred as they marched on the lawn at the University of Virginia—an assault on the fundamental values of higher education, the intellectual community of which we are a part, and our shared humanity,” wrote Teifenthaler.
CCSGA and its newly established Inclusion Committee will be working closely with the Butler center this year to address incidents not only at CC, but also in the Colorado Springs community. “We hope to maintain an open dialogue… these things simmer under the surface, tensions build and build until they explode, that’s what happened with Yik Yak. We want to counteract that,” said student body President Dorsa Djalilzadeh. CCSGA stands in solidarity with the victims of Charlottesville. It hopes to create forums to discuss events around the nation, as well as events in the Colorado College community concerning inclusivity and racism. CCSGA will be releasing an official statement on Charlottesville later this week. While Colorado College is a socially active campus, sometimes it is difficult to keep the momentum on certain issues and movements. Keeping an open dialogue and continuing to discuss these issues will hopefully mitigate this obstacle. “This is your home and this is your community. You should never feel threatened or feel unsafe,” said Djalilzadeh.
The student group Conversations on Whiteness is also responding to the violence in Charlottesville by creating a space for dialogue. Sophia Brown, co-chair of Conversations on Whiteness said, “People of color have been telling everybody that this stuff was happening for a while now, but nobody did anything…white people need to talk to other white people… and seriously consider these issues of white supremacy and racism in this country right now, in all levels. Not just the super overt Nazis in the street, but on every level.” Conversations on Whiteness is affiliated with the Butler Center and it aims to educate and encourage awareness among white allies. The events in Charlottesville gave a sense of urgency to their efforts. “The focus of our club is education, making white people comfortable talking about race and white supremacy, making them aware of their own white privilege and how it exists in everyday life, not just in the news,” said Brown. Conversations of Whiteness provides a space for white people to talk about the role of whiteness in racism. Eviva Khane, co-chair of Conversations on Whiteness said, “It ties racism to whiteness, so often racism gets tied to the bodies of people of color and not to the bodies of white people.”
This year, the Butler Center worked in two sessions on inclusivity during the New Student Orientation, “A Sense of Community: Building Solidarity.” They advised a Student of Color Luncheon in collaboration with returning students of color, and sponsored the Annual Student of Color Reception. The Butler Center is currently working on plans to host screenings, panels, discussions, and community gatherings to promote education and support for inclusivity. Dr. Paul Buckley, Assistant Vice President and Director of the Butler Center said, “Inclusivity is about active and intentional engagement with diversity in all its dimensions… our biggest challenges are always expressed in our lack of trust for one another… at CC we have the unique opportunity as an intentional community to do more. Our activism, sense of civic duty, and engagement always begins with ourselves as individuals and as a community.” The Butler Center will continue to facilitate a healthy community for people of color at Colorado College, and it expects that white counterparts will learn to become allies. “Racism has a way of isolating and dehumanizing people of color, so it’s important to affirm community as both a social and political form of resistance,” Buckley said.
“This is not a time for grandstanding or trying to make a name for ourselves, but to remain committed to purposeful work and to care for each other in a spirit of partnership and radical sharing. This is what equity demands. In fact, this is what community and humanity are at their core,” said Buckley.