On Monday, April 1, hordes of students packed into the first floor of the Glass House. On one side of the room was a couch, and on the other side, a line of chairs. As the room filled, a group of Colorado College men’s hockey players took their seats. Across from them on the couch sat a group of aggrieved students. There was a palpable tension in the air.
The meeting was a culmination of a series of events that transpired over the weekend.
On Friday, March 29, a group of predominantly students of color approached 122 Uintah, the off-campus hockey house. They were asked at the door who they knew in the party and were not allowed into the event. According to a Facebook post by the victims responding to the event, they were physically pushed and blocked from entering the house.
“A group predominantly made up of POC international students approached a predominantly white space … and were met with belittling and physical aggression … simply because we didn’t look like we would know anyone at the party,” stated the post on the Colorado College Free and For Sale Facebook page, signed by Jacqueline Nkhonjera ’20, Maitreyi Menon ’20, and Eden Lumerman ’19.
In the aftermath of the post, hockey captain Andrew Farny ’19 reached out to the students involved in the incident wanting to apologize. A public dialogue was set for Monday, April 1.
The group of students began by introducing themselves and reading their Facebook post.
“We were publicly humiliated and publicly attacked, and therefore we will publicly call you out,” said Nkhonjera before handing it over to the hockey boys.
Farny began the apology. “The residents of 122 Uintah, also known as the hockey house, and the entire hockey team, would like to apologize wholeheartedly for the events that occurred on the evening of Friday, March 29,” said Farny.
He went on to say that the events at the hockey house were not racially motivated. Rather, the bouncer who was manning the door, a friend of the team named James Martello ’19, didn’t let them in because he didn’t know them.
“The responsibility of the host is, to quote, ‘make sure the bouncer is doing their job and that only the people you know and invited are at your party,” said Farney, referencing the Pathfinder. Farny claimed that the hockey house was simply following the rules established by the school to ensure that the party was safe.
Many students, both in the original Facebook post and in the discussion took issue with Farney using the Pathfinder to explain the actions of that night.
Additionally, some pointed out that they were in the party without knowing anyone, and without getting a second look from the bouncer.
“I entered the party about 20 minutes earlier. I also don’t know any of you, and I also doubt that you know the large cohorts of freshman girls that were there,” said Annika Winans ’19.
While Farny said the actions of Martello were not racially motivated, many students did not agree and pointed to unconscious bias.
“These beliefs can become so ingrained in people that they don’t realize that they’re happening,” said Cam Kaplan ’20, a student who has had similar experiences as the group from the hockey house. You have people of very good intentions enacting a bias so frequently that it just becomes part of our lived experience.”
Students suggested a range of ideas on how to prevent future incidents like the one at the hockey house. Many pointed to education about racism and bias as an important first step. Others pointed out the amount of separation among some groups on campus and called for a more cohesive community.
“Let’s try to expand our cliques … let’s not stick to them so closely, because it’s very easy to see that that’s part of the issue,” said John Capers, the sophomore executive for student government.
There was an overall sense of positivity walking away from the meeting. While it’s clear that there is a long way to go in addressing racism at CC, students felt that the meeting was a step forward.
“It was really a tough situation, and it’s a tough conversation … At the end of the day, it comes down to learning and there needs to be learning on certain sides for sure,” said Farny. We are going to take the necessary pathways to do that. I think it was a very productive meeting.”
Whether or not the meeting will truly impact racism at CC remains up in the air, but the overwhelming response by students and the openness of the hockey team to discuss the event are promising.
“It’s unfortunate that this had to happen in this way, but this is the first time that I’ve seen the CC community … come together and actually have a constructive conversation,” said Nkhonjera. “I’m hopeful.”