By now, most of you have probably seen the barrage of fliers that Trinity Progressives (of which we’re co-presidents “” full disclosure) posted around campus to advertise its student-only town hall on campus climate, taking place next Wednesday, Jan. 27 at 7:30 p.m. in the Bell Center Dance Studio. If you’re anything like our good friend Alyx Purrkowsky, you might have immediately asked “Wait, didn’t Trinity Diversity Connection (TDC) already have this event in December?” The answer to this understandable question is a resounding and maybe-possibly-slightly-defensive NO. While TDC’s forum provided an excellent educational introduction to the topic, an honest evaluation of the inclusivity of our campus is still pertinent. Next week’s town hall will set the proper course of action in motion if necessary.
When protests regarding universities’ atmospheres towards minority students erupted earlier this year at schools ranging from Mizzou to Yale to Claremont-McKenna, a clear signal was sent: many feel their campus climate excludes and marginalizes certain groups of students. Regardless of college size, prestige, or geographic location, this attitude holds firm, and it’s one that is exacerbated by administrators seen as callous and unwilling to listen. While Trinity is assuredly not plagued by the latter problem (#TigerPride), it is important that we respond to potential concerns regarding our culture proactively to ensure that our tight-knit community is as supportive and strong as possible. We need to have a sincere discussion of our campus climate towards issues of race, ethnicity, and otherness at large.
That’s what the town hall seeks to provide: an honest evaluation of our campus from the perspective of us, the students, in a setting removed from the offices and classrooms of upper campus. Our agenda isn’t to demonize the administration or divide the student body, but is to engage in productive dialogue. If we fail to discuss these issues openly and civilly, we risk allowing problems to fester until a breaking point is reached, resulting in lasting damage to the school’s reputation and, more importantly, its sense of community. The events at Mizzou are a telling example of the consequences of silence. By promoting a culture of respectful conversation, Trinity can sustain a campus climate that’s receptive to change and supports the needs of all students.
Of course, discussion is not always enough “” positive change often requires an accompaniment of action. That’s why Trinity Progressives plan to form a committee of students, faculty, and staff with an aim of drafting policy proposals based on the responses from the town hall. The committee will present recommendations to the administration that have the potential to improve Trinity’s campus climate and remedy any identified problems. Before finalizing any proposal, the committee will hold forums where members of the Trinity community can provide their input and make suggestions. We may not necessarily need to take drastic measures to adjust our campus climate, but a committee will provide an efficient medium for communication between the student body and concrete steps on the administrative side.
So please, if you’ve had a notable experience with Trinity’s racial climate, whether positive or negative, or just want to help create a more inclusive campus, come to the event on Wednesday. Join the committee. Attend a policy forum later this semester. Engagement is key to impacting informed and positive change, and diverse opinions pave the path to progress, providing holistic understanding of our campus’ concerns and needs. Also, there will probably be snacks. On that note, we hope to see you soon.