My response to Dudley’s diversity and inclusion initiatives email

Dear President Dudley,

I am not entirely sure who this message was meant to persuade as I can assure you that minority students are not feeling included. We are not feeling included in all of the benefits of being a member of the W&L community as we are so clearly and so often treated as second class members here. Our concerns are treated as less important than our more privileged peers. We receive far less support from the administration. And most egregiously, our health and safety on this campus is not even given the minimum consideration required by law in most states. 

When we chose to attend this institution of higher learning, we did not plan on signing away any right to consideration or basic decency. We are still people. Our status as marginalized students or students on scholarship should have no correlation as to how we are treated here. However, the experience of so many marginalized students testifies to our University’s failure in regards to that principle. How is it possible that at such a wealthy University, marginalized students have been so often negatively impacted by health and safety incidents here? And how many need to be affected before this becomes as important to the administration and the Board as the issue of Greek recruitment?

Whose job is it to ensure the health and safety of marginalized students on this campus? I am so often hearing that these are “isolated incidents.” I think what the administration means to say is that they are isolated to marginalized students. The Sankofa house was displaced multiple times due to bed bugs which were a known issue. Students were constantly notified at the last moment in a patronizing move as to prevent us from raising questions or concerns. Information was withheld from us and the administration couldn’t even answer as to what type of treatment was being used in our rooms. The Nuestro Hogar house did not just have to suffer through a rodent infestation (which they were only given traps for), but now students’ lives were risked by dangerous infrastructure. These were concerns raised by previous residents as well. If that ceiling had shattered a bone instead of the laptop, which this student spent months to earn, would it have warranted a more urgent response then?

I have lived in enough subpar rental apartments to know when I am not being treated fairly by a landlord. What is happening to marginalized students here is neglect at best and one could even argue racially targeted. We all witnessed the swift actions taken by administration and the Board regarding Greek recruitment. All marginalized students receive after health threatening incidents are kindly worded emails in which administrators, speaking from a place of privilege, seek to placate rather than address our concerns. We are thanked for our patience as if we have a choice. We do not have wealthy parents to argue on our behalf and we shouldn’t have to. The lack of advocacy and support from this administration speaks volumes. This surely cannot be the best that our University can do and I hope that we can both agree that our students deserve more.

Yours truly,

Amber M.