By Sam Pfeifer
At the end of last semester, I, along with many other students and faculty, attended a campus dialogue on antiracism and hate speech. The event was hosted by Professor Cristina Leza’s “The Language of Racism” class. Five groups of students presented on a range of ideas from folk theory to stand-up comedy.
At my table, there were a few students in the class along with two faculty members. I distinctly remember one of them saying, “You know, I have had seven students come into my office today, on totally separate matters, asking the same thing: When are we going to see results from the antiracism implementation plan?”
She went on to say, “You students need to realize that your voice matters. If 85% of students protested and didn’t go to class for two days, the school would have to do something quick.” I remember thinking, that would be so easy! Why can’t we get the student community to do something so simple, yet so powerful?
Flash forward to the beginning of this semester. Almost immediately, an open letter circulated the student population detailing the growing frustrations of many students. “As Colorado College acknowledges and attempts to oppose its deeply entrenched racism, it is employing the same white supremacist techniques upon which the college is built,” it reads.
One of the many concerns expressed in the letter was the demotion of Dr. Paul Buckley of the Butler Center — How is the school promoting anti-racism when we are ridding ourselves of staff of color in leadership roles? Unfortunately, the letter could not change the reality, as Buckley resigned from his position on Jan. 31.
Going forward into Block 6, the Solidarity Coalition organized an open forum with administration on the antiracism implementation plan. Most of the forum went smoothly. Students were given an opportunity to voice their experiences and their dissatisfaction with the implementation of the plan. President Tiefenthaler was given an opportunity to respond where she apologized for the failures of the implementation plan. However, the meeting took a turn for the worse when a member of our Board of Trustees made statements coming off as actively dismissive and disruptive. One student told me that he had to remove himself because the space became too uncomfortable.
In all of these instances, the CC community, in its entirety, is addressed. However, this begs the question: What is the CC community? Who is the CC community?
The phrase “CC community” is typically used as a broad, all-encompassing term. On paper, obviously, this should mean everyone: students, faculty, staff, alumni, board members, etc. Our community, in this sense, includes the board member who told students of color to be grateful for what they have.
In the context of our active, everyday pledge of antiracism, I think it is fair to say that our community is not what we think it is. As a campus, we must be more mindful of how we define and talk about “our community.” Not everyone on our campus is as heavily invested in efforts to dismantle racism. Many students have not read any documents regarding antiracism at CC. Many students were also completely unaware of the letter circulating campus. That is a sad matter of fact.