By Stacy A. Maceda ’19
In my perspective piece as a student of color I want to attach the email I sent out to administration when there was vandalism found on campus on April 22nd ,2019. This email is exemplary of what a student of color must face every time they don’t know where to turn for answers when an incident like this happens.
I am writing to ask if the ODI office or any administration on campus will address the spray painted words on the College Book store yesterday morning (4/22). I am more deeply upset by the following words painted, “Build the Wall.” In just 26 days my immigrant parents will see me graduate as a first-generation Latina women. I am not like my other peers who are privileged to have their parents speak on their behalf, so I will. To think that those words could have been painted close to graduation and my parents could have come across them truly upsets me and insults the sacrifice my parents have made to get me to where I am today. Regardless of political views, I think it should be understood that those words are not meant to exhibit patriotism but rather dehumanize those who have left their own homes to find a better future in this country for themselves and their families.
It saddens me that this will be part of some of my last memories at HWS. I thought that having an ODI will help incidents like these stop or have them addressed in a timely matter. In 2015, I took part in the We the Unheard protest across campus to call to attention the needs of POC on campus and a push to diversify the campus. Although significant work was done, I do not feel enough has been done. Where is our Diversity Chief Officer we were promised? There has been a downfall of action and I think POC students are becoming more and more discouraged with the support of this institution.
Speaking with my parents, I could hear the fear they had for my safety. In today’s political climate the color of my skin or the language I speak could put me at risk of a racist attack. So, understand that when I see words like “Build the Wall” it makes me fearful for not only myself but my peers who are undocumented or have family members who are. It makes us feel as though we are not accepted on this campus, more so when the institution has yet to address it. My four years will soon come to an end and it is disheartening that this is how the institution will be reflected in my memories. I ask that you all truly work to address these issues so future students won’t feel unwelcomed, threatened or unheard, like myself.
It has been almost three days since the incident and out of the 7 administrative departments that I sent this out to only 2 personally replied. Once again, I felt discouraged by the support from this institution as a student of color, especially from our interim President Patrick McGuire. The transparency for the search for a Chief Diversity Officer is pitiful. The administration has failed to inform us of the status of a process that started four years ago goes to show the lack of investment in addressing our concerns.