HWS Current Events: Race and Diversity

There are a great deal of important events that have occurred recently at HWS.  As a study abroad student, I’ve felt removed from these happenings so I wanted to create a sort of summary to better understand what’s going on and to make a proper case for why it’s so critical that we pay close attention.

 

On April 22nd, someone spray-painted the phrases “Build the Wall,” “MAGA,” and “Trump 22” across the campus.  This hateful rhetoric has no place at HWS.  People can differ on political issues, but everyone should be on the same page when it comes to basic morality.  Thoughtlessly spewing hurtful words forces even more fear into people of color at HWS (especially those that are immigrants or come from immigrant families). This only serves to expose our school’s glaring inadequacies and obvious, festering racism.

On April 24th, Psychology professor Brien Ashdown emailed the student body about the spray-painting incident.  This update came as no surprise to anyone, as Ashdown has taken up the mantle of faculty activist in the past.  Among other things, he stated that he was disappointed in the administration for not immediately responding to the vandalism and taking action.  Later that same day, our interim President McGuire emailed the student body, expressing his negative feelings towards the messages and claiming that the graffiti “does not represent us.”  Perhaps what he meant was that it should not represent us.

On April 26th, the Herald newspaper, the self-proclaimed “voice for the students,” published a whopping 14 pages on race issues at HWS, complete with 24 different testimonies from people of color on campus.  This isn’t the first time the newspaper has struck the heart of our school’s most pressing problems.  Last spring, the Herald dutifully researched our former President’s several counts of plagiarism in the early 2000s and published an article highlighting the details in April of 2018.  Additionally, they’ve covered sexual assault and the effectiveness of our campus’s Title IX office and other poignant subjects like the benefits and drawbacks of the coordinate college system and the culture of stress and overworking from which many of our students suffer.  Their most recent publication on race and diversity is an absolute must-read for everyone at HWS.  The voices of marginalized students need to be heard and we need to do better to make everyone here feel safe, welcome, and equal.  Read these viewpoints with your morning coffee, in between classes, at the gym, etc. because the authors deserve your respect and their experiences require your attention.

On May 2nd, President McGuire emailed the student body to not only commend the work done by the Herald but also to apologize for not finding a Chief Diversity Officer sooner.  According to the Herald, the position hasn’t been filled since last year and our campus has not been fully funding all points of the Strategic Diversity Plan that was created in 2016.  It shouldn’t come as a surprise that HWS isn’t keeping up what should be crucial pillars of our school.  But given this apology from the administration and the hopeful testimonies from faculty and students about our next President, perhaps changes will be made. However, we should absolutely continue to clamber for the rights of education, equality, and safety of all students. Change won’t come if we become stagnant.