Earlier this month, students in our theater department engaged in powerful activism around their classroom experiences, sending an unequivocal message that they will no longer accept a campus climate that allows hurtful and derogatory words and behaviors to go unchecked. In the halls of Dillingham Center, a manifesto was posted on the walls, calling for new practices that show and implement a commitment to an equitable and diverse environment. Sheets of paper accompanied the manifesto, filled with student accounts of racism, sexism, homophobia, anti-Semitism, ableism, and sizeism.
My senior leadership team and I walked the halls, bearing witness to the students’ statements. Their honest and brave dialogue claimed space and visibility, and demanded action, accountability, and responsibility on the part of the college and our campus community.
When we are confronted with moments that hold up a mirror to who we are and where we have fallen short—whether these moments happen on campus or in our greater communities—there is tremendous strength to be found in embracing the discomfort and sitting in that space fully and openly, regarding it as an opportunity.
Engaging from this perspective enables us to use challenges as pivot points that prompt us to mobilize necessary change. This becomes a lever to help dislodge the destructive thinking and habits that compromise the future and prevent us from healing ourselves, our communities, and our planet.