In the past few days Springfield College has had its eyes opened.
Racial relations have made major headlines throughout the country. It is easy to ignore something that happens in someone else’s back yard. But recent events have brought to light racial relationships on campus and it’s time to act.
At the beginning of the week a student expressed his opinions on Springfield College and how it handles race relations. His sign read, “Springfield College Does Not Care About Black People.”
“He has every right to do so,” said Calvin Hill, the vice president for inclusion and community engagement. “On a campus of higher education we want to encourage our students to have these difficult dialogues.”
“He was out on Monday and during Humanics in Action Day to raise awareness and we heard that. He wanted to get people to ponder and think, and I think he did.”
He did indeed. Since his march around campus the buzz and extent of talking about racial relationships on campus has risen.
Hill emphasized, however, that the student should not be seen as a villain but rather all of campus should reflect and ask ourselves what did his protest mean to us and to our college.
“ I am hoping that we have some campus conversations just talking about issues of power, privilege and social justice and really question why someone from a different experience than [us] can have a different reality,” said Hill.
Expression comes in all different forms. Some may have chosen Twitter or Facebook or maybe even written in a journal. What has been demonstrated on campus earlier this week was simply an act of expression, just in a different medium not typically shown at Springfield College.
Hill and the rest of the administrative staff want to make sure those words and talks move in a positive and forward thinking direction.
“As a campus community we want to follow up on what he started,” Hill said. “The focus should not be on [the student] but rather on his sign.”
On Tuesday, Oct. 6 at 5:30 p.m. in the Alumni foyer, Hill and other faculty will invite students, staff and anyone else to join in a campus conversation.
That conversation will be followed up by another casual talk, lead by the office of Spiritual Life, in the John Wilson Lounge in the Union Thursday, Oct. 8
“He owns his experiences and [we] do not walk in his shoes,” said Hill. “What he caused us to do is to think. We need to take that sign and think about what it is to us as individuals.”
From majority to minority, students and staff alike, we have been handed this opportunity to speak and share our own experiences and expressions.
“I want us to get away from that anger on him posting his own personal thoughts and work towards us stepping back and asking, ‘why would he feel that way?’ and really try to understand that,” Hill said.
Everyone has their own experiences, just like that student, and their own reality. The question now becomes, what can we do to make Springfield College a better place for the future?