Coming to Centre College from Boston, MA I was told to beware the culture shock that may come from departing from a blue state and arriving at a red one. Regardless I was told of the purple dot that Centre represents in Kentucky and this past week, a united Centre didn’t care for color at all, rather advocated for the advancement of inclusion and equal treatment of all Centre students.
Conversations during the open forums voiced the concerns and demands of Centre students to begin this change towards total inclusivity. During the open forum with President John Roush, students expressed the need of an additional mental health advisor; particularly a woman and preferably of color. The president regarded the need for additional mental health advisors but could not promise the demand meet the job pool available. It is important to express the needs of colored students on campus, as ours needs are not sometimes prioritized or even thought of. While a colored woman as a mental health advisor would be ideal for the commodity of students of color, the job pool may not allow that. Although, on the subject of talking about sexual abuse/assault, it is important that the college recognize the important need of a female advisor for the commodity of women during traumatic situations that may occur on Centre’s campus. If the college has failed to prevent an act of sexual assault, it should be able to at least be prepared to treat it.
Conversations like these regarding the grievances of people of color on campus continued with the open dialogue on racism and speech at Centre. To begin, the best thing to find was a warehouse without enough seats. Centre’s campus had heard enough stories of racism being openly spoken and the social media posts we’ve seen. The dialogue was not only a way for colored students to express their issues on campus, but also a chance to listen as others may not be aware. With being split into groups due to the large turnout, we began with silence; people did not know what to say or how to say it. While the beginning of our conversation was mostly coming from colored students, others were talking about how they don’t know or are closed off to most of the issues that colored students faced. They expressed how they want to be a voice to help others and to be able to speak up if they heard something. While some of us stayed silent, we could hear how other groups were not the same. Some groups were very loud about how action needed to be taken at Centre and how unacceptable the rhetoric of other students had been. Honestly, I found it quite surprising that the fervor in the call for action didn’t come from a student of color. Looking around, I found that conversations and excitement like this was present in all the groups, including mine. People on Centre are upset and it doesn’t just include colored voices. Those who recognize the struggles of people of color are more than we think, and we hope that it’s those people that continue the conversation and continue participating in these open forums.
While last week a particular incident was highlighted, it will not be the last one. Students should not rest while these incidents happen. Students should not allow themselves to be passive bystanders, and push themselves to be the catalyst for change on Centre’s campus. Centre students today can correct the errors of those who came before us, not continue them.
Cesar Romero, First-Year Representative