by Delphine Burns
A full room of Pitzer community members waited patiently for the faculty before them to speak into the little microphones placed before them on a long, thin table. As the last few seats were filled, Pitzer Student Senate introduced the event everyone had gathered for. On Tues., Dec. 1 at 4PM, the Town Hall Meeting on Supporting Communities of Color commenced.
At the beginning of the meeting, community guidelines were set by the attendees and written on the white board at the front of the room for all to reference. Next, a panel of four faculty members introduced themselves and spoke briefly on the issue of providing community and resources for students of color at Pitzer.
Political Studies professor Adrian Pantoja, one member of this panel, spoke about Pitzer’s motto, Provida Futuri, which is Latin for providing for the future. Pantoja addressed the importance of providing for a diverse and inclusive Pitzer in years to come. He talked about how Pitzer must be at the forefront of this social justice issue.
“Students of color must tell Pitzer how to live up to its values,” Pantoja said.
Next, Psychology and Africana Studies Halford Fairchild spoke of activism among college students during his time as an undergraduate student. He emphasized the importance of activism among college students and how activism contributes to ensuring institutions “diversify the academy.”
Once the discussion was open to the rest of the community, students raised their hands and a microphone was passed around to all who wanted to speak on the issue. As students and other community members spoke, a list was created on the board at the front of the room with ideas for how to better support marginalized students at Pitzer.
Some prescriptions are listed below. Pitzer should:
- Ensure living accommodations reflect needs of marginalized students
- Live up to its values of diversity, especially in curriculum
- Set priorities for better Financial Aid opportunities, and a more diverse student body
- Reflect and educate privileged students
- Set an agenda for the new incoming President
- Require mandatory diversity class/training
- Recognize affinity groups as more crucial than interest groups
- Understand and recognize intersectionality
- Create a multicultural center on campus
Other solutions were discussed, and many participants in the discussion spoke with from their hearts and minds against the injustice perpetuated on college campuses nationwide. Community members discussed many issues perpetuated at Pitzer such as microaggressions and invalidation of marginalized students’ experiences.
Although this discussion is only the beginning of a solution to a grand institutional issue, it was a step toward better policies and a chance for the community to come together and share narratives of their experiences. If there are more strategies you think can help eradicate this campus issue, you are encouraged to respectfully become part of this important conversation.