By: Carley Crain
Springfield College’s Office of Inclusion and Community Engagement hosted another Zoom meeting last night (July 14) at 6 p.m., continuing their theme of “Silence is not an Option” in regard to the “Conversation On Race” series.
This week, Dr. Calvin Hill hosted a webinar-style conversation alongside students JaNaya Ashley, Paris Lizana, Brianna D’Haiti, and Xavier Washington.
The focus of this week was to host an honest conversation about race between Springfield College students and administration. At first, Dr. Hill asked a series of prepared questions to students, then opened the floor to the audience for a question and answer session.
The panel of students mainly spoke about their personal experiences at Springfield and what they hope Springfield College as an institution can do to improve, and how to diversify campus.
One of the more popular questions that was asked was how can Springfield College diversify campus and staff as a whole? Students brought up how they would like a black counselor available to talk to at the counseling center, as well as a person of color as the new Title IX coordinator.
“For the white students and staff, learn how to talk to us and students that look like me. A lot of times they would say something that they thought was nice but it was not,” Ja’Naya Ashley said. “So, I would just say learn how to talk to people who are different than you.”
Another popular topic discussed was how Springfield should require all students to take an African-American literature class or a cultural sensitivity course, to further educate and inform the campus community on how to approach and communicate with people of color.
The panel of students also expressed how these classes should be taught by people of color so that students could engage and share their similar experiences amongst each other. Student voices are being heard as one third of the incoming staff this year have an ALANA background.
Community engagement, leadership, and student activism are all core components of the Springfield College humanics philosophy, “to educate the whole person in spirit, mind, and body for leadership in service to others.”
This upcoming school year, students will continue to be active regarding diversity on campus by being a part of recruitment committees, advisory boards, and marketing strategies.
The panel of students also shared their personal racial experiences at Springfield. Dr. Calvin Hill brought up the question; “What has frustrated you the most while at Springfield?” Both Lizana and D’Haiti expressed how there is a lack of diversity in their majors, which has made them feel out of place, as well as that their voices are unheard or silenced.
“As a woman in the sports management program, there are a lot of men so it kind of feels like you are alone and sometimes your voice isn’t heard because you are being overpowered by other classmates,” Lizana said. “Just being a minority in general on campus is a little bit rough.”
Ashley added that she gets stereotyped as the “angry black girl” when she expresses her thoughts and opinions or as “disrespectful.”
“I am being looked at as negative because I am confronting them about how they are treating me,” she said.
Washington mentioned how many people still do not understand the hardships that people of color face and share amongst each other.
“When people see me and I tell people all the time, If you don’t see my blackness, that is a significant aspect of who I am and has contributed to my experiences and how I see the world,” said Dr. Calvin Hill.
Continuing open communication and dialogue will educate and inform those who do not understand, and that is exactly what the Springfield Administration is planning on doing, as they hope to expand race conversations to incoming freshmen, host events during the fall, and engage non-traditional students.