Did you miss it?
I recently wrote an email to faculty and staff on campus regarding the passing of the year anniversary of the Black Stags Matter protests on campus and wanted to write something here as well. Since the protest, there have been promises made and fulfilled, promises made and broken and in many ways, people have moved on with their lives as if nothing happened. It has been over a year since the protest, and with little more than a whisper of people demanding change, campus has returned to something it finds most of its comfort in: white comfortability and white ignorance.
A year ago, many parts of campus came together to vocally support Black and Brown students on campus in the face of an institution that was suggesting the campus should side with white supremacy because, make no mistake, to be “neutral” is to support the oppressor. There is nothing neutral about standing by as students say they do not feel safe on this campus. There is nothing neutral about standing by as they say that they don’t feel safe in their own dorm rooms.
Now that we will have a Vice President of Diversity beginning over the summer, we cannot believe that the fight is over. If we throw all of our problems onto the new VP without putting in the work ourselves, we will see history repeat itself as it has since the founding of Fairfield University. If we continue to say, “It’s not my problem,” we will see history repeat itself. If we do this, we will have failed.
You are still needed. You still have a responsibility as a human being, as someone who is a part of a Jesuit institution, to fight for the rights of the students here. Violence does not just occur in the moments like what some of us saw last year. The violence against Black and Brown students, faculty and staff occurs in every second of silence, every second of complacency.
If any of this was news to you, I ask that you look through past articles of “The Fairfield Mirror” from when the protests were occurring. Do not throw this work and weight onto Black and Brown faculty, staff or students if you do not know what life can be like for students here. There are hundreds of resources online for you to access and “The Mirror” also offers a glance at the experience.
If this isn’t news to you, if you were at the protests, if you were someone who heard about it and stayed in class, even if you are someone just listening now, I leave you with this:
This is your fight too. Even if you believe that none of this will affect your life, even if you would rather stay in a world of blissful ignorance, there is always work to be done. The best thing that institutions have against change is that we are only here for four years. They only have to worry about us fighting to make things better until we graduate and then things can “return to normal.” This is something that this university has seen happen countless times and something that I fear will happen again.
Regardless of where you stand, you chose to come to a Jesuit university. You are called to set the world on fire and that means every part of the world, not just the parts that you’re comfortable saying are wrong. We have immense power as students, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Change can be scary, but we have the ability to help create something new, something beautiful. We can make this campus a place where students feel safe, comfortable and like they belong.