Overcoming the Silence

By Darrin Camilleri

One of my high school teachers used to say; “Words are containers for power.” That became clear to me as I read through last week’s article and editorial surrounding the protest at the end of fall quarter. I participated in that protest and stood in solidarity with students who had been silenced in their classroom and on this campus, not only in one instance, but on a regular basis. That is what students had expressed to me based on their interactions at K. Their words, full of power, stemmed from experience. The staff editorial by the Index caused plenty of pain, but it wasn’t the first time some students felt this way.

When the College started to increase efforts toward diversifying its student body several years ago, many people in the K community applauded it as an excellent step forward for this 180-year-old, historically white institution. I completely agree—it was about time. But what strikes me the most about this equation is that the institution itself has not changed much to adapt to the needs of students of color who are now here from all over the country and world. Our curriculum is still mostly the same. Our Office of Multicultural Affairs is still a department of one. Our student-led, student-funded organizations like the Index, Student Commission, and the Student Activities Committee are still predominately white organizations. These are some of the structural issues that motivated the protestors who chose to stay silent that early morning before a final exam. It’s not that we didn’t want to express concerns to a professor that day; it’s that these institutional concerns have been expressed for years now, but have been met with little response. And if you can’t hear students, then you surely can’t educate them.

As president of your Student Commission, I have been listening to the concerns of students during my years at K. I have been fighting my best to make it so that all students feel comfortable on this fair Arcadian hill while they live up to our mission statement: To better understand, live successfully within, and provide enlightened leadership to a richly diverse and increasingly complex world. Today, I challenge our campus institutions and leaders to live by that same creed and start practicing what we’re preaching. After listening, once again, to the pain that students have felt because of an entity at K, I am going to set my sights on how we can create change. Although I don’t have the answer just yet, please know that I’ve heard you. You’re not silent to me.

 

Overcoming the Silence

By Darrin Camilleri

One of my high school teachers used to say; “Words are containers for power.” That became clear to me as I read through last week’s article and editorial surrounding the protest at the end of fall quarter. I participated in that protest and stood in solidarity with students who had been silenced in their classroom and on this campus, not only in one instance, but on a regular basis. That is what students had expressed to me based on their interactions at K. Their words, full of power, stemmed from experience. The staff editorial by the Index caused plenty of pain, but it wasn’t the first time some students felt this way.

When the College started to increase efforts toward diversifying its student body several years ago, many people in the K community applauded it as an excellent step forward for this 180-year-old, historically white institution. I completely agree—it was about time. But what strikes me the most about this equation is that the institution itself has not changed much to adapt to the needs of students of color who are now here from all over the country and world. Our curriculum is still mostly the same. Our Office of Multicultural Affairs is still a department of one. Our student-led, student-funded organizations like the Index, Student Commission, and the Student Activities Committee are still predominately white organizations. These are some of the structural issues that motivated the protestors who chose to stay silent that early morning before a final exam. It’s not that we didn’t want to express concerns to a professor that day; it’s that these institutional concerns have been expressed for years now, but have been met with little response. And if you can’t hear students, then you surely can’t educate them.

As president of your Student Commission, I have been listening to the concerns of students during my years at K. I have been fighting my best to make it so that all students feel comfortable on this fair Arcadian hill while they live up to our mission statement: To better understand, live successfully within, and provide enlightened leadership to a richly diverse and increasingly complex world. Today, I challenge our campus institutions and leaders to live by that same creed and start practicing what we’re preaching. After listening, once again, to the pain that students have felt because of an entity at K, I am going to set my sights on how we can create change. Although I don’t have the answer just yet, please know that I’ve heard you. You’re not silent to me.