How does a community begin to respond, heal, and move forward after an attack? On Tuesday night, pencil, paper, and email were the means of action for the several dozen students gathered in Sacred Grounds.
Responses to the email sent to students over spring break have taken many forms on campus over the first week of the block, and many groups and individuals on campus have condemned the content of the email and offered their support to the targeted groups.
“Letters are simple, but they’re something,” said SethWilson Gray, who had the idea for the letter-writing event after seeing posts on social media over break calling on allies to step up and do something about the attack.
Many letter writers shared purpose in expressing solidarity with those who were attacked by the email. Students planned on writing letters to Deans Rochelle Mason and Mike Edmonds, and others hoped to write to their black friends and peers to voice their support.
The event also allowed students to express frustration and demand change from the college’s administration. “It’s easy for them to ignore that students are hurting right now,” said Gray, hoping that letters written to the Board of Trustees and the president will help ensure that they don’t ignore the outrage on campus. Dorsa Djalilzadeh, Colorado College Student Government Association president, shared her perspective, saying if people raise their voices loud enough, the administration will listen.
Some letter-writers expressed their desire for change in the academic environment. “It’s not that the curriculum is promoting this, but it’s not requiring students to actively resist it,” said Lena Farr-Morrissey, who helped organized the event. Farr-Morrissey expressed her frustration with All-College Requirements like the West in Time requirement and suggested that requiring race, ethnicity, and migration studies or feminist and gender studies classes instead would make people more aware of the racism, sexism, their intersections, and the prejudice surrounding them. Farr-Morrissey hoped that the event would help to keep people’s attention on these issues all the time, not just after an attack.
Additionally, many students planned on writing either directly to professors who exhibited troubling behavior in class. “It’s hard to go up to your professor who’s giving you a grade for a class that you pay a lot of money for and tell them that they’re hurting people,” said Gray, recognizing the difficulty of pointing out misconduct to a faculty member as a student.
Charles Meyer, who wrote several letters, appreciated the opportunity to write to the administration and demand concrete change, and added a warning based on his experience of the campus response thus far: “When a social media post represents action and the lack of social media posts represents inaction, we create a pretty narrow way to be active.”
If there is one thing that all who wrote letters on Tuesday can agree upon, it’s that for real change, this is like the first step of a marathon.
The print version of this article, published on Friday, March 30th, 2018, featured a photo of two envelopes addressed to Edmonds and Mason; however, one was mistakenly addressed to “Edwards,” an error we had made once before. We apologize for this negligence.