As students who were a part of the most recent demonstration to faculty, we believe it is our duty to address what actually happened, as there have been many misunderstandings surrounding our intentions and the responses we’ve received. During the faculty meeting on Nov. 14, students asked faculty members to make a verbal commitment in support of diversity training and two-thirds obliged. Diversity training for faculty was first proposed in 1996, 22 years ago.
The Campus Times article (“Faculty supports diversity training,” Nov. 16) failed to capture much of what occurred during the student demonstration. One glaring omission in the article was that during the demonstration, many faculty members engaged in side conversations while students shared their narratives. These narratives include stories about the blatant use of racial slurs by faculty members in the classroom and around campus, DACA students who were told that their stories of matriculation to the U.S. were overused and uninteresting, and students of color who endured discriminatory practices that disproportionately impact them as they attempt to take advantage of study abroad opportunities.
The article also failed to report that a faculty member proclaimed that the students’ lived experiences, although disheartening, were mislabeled as microaggressions and a function of “semantics” rather than a form of discrimination because “they weren’t intended to be harmful.” What this faculty member failed to understand is that intentionality doesn’t make a statement or act any less of a microaggression. Microaggressions have been proven to heighten students stress and anxiety levels. Despite the students’ efforts to communicate that the impact of these microaggressions were akin to death by a thousand cuts, the faculty member insisted that students mislabeled their experiences and insinuated that students were overreacting.
Another aspect not reported in the Campus Times article was that a faculty member asked students to talk about our positive experiences because, “not everything we experience as students could be that negative.” That faculty member became upset when students tried to explain to him that his questions were invalidating of our lived experiences.
One of the most disheartening actions that took place was the faculty blaming ASULV for not supporting students enough and that if they did, these types of incidents would not happen in the classroom. A faculty member who serves on the Diversity Coalition erroneously concluded that racial, sexist, homophobic comments students endured in the classroom would happen less if the Social Justice Form was more publicized. While we feel that the oppressive behaviors will only stop when faculty are trained and held accountable by student evaluations, tenure, and post-tenure processes.
During the 30-minute demonstration, it was clear to us that faculty members had great difficulty accepting responsibility for the roles they played in the perpetuation of discrimination and microaggressions across campus. Faculty members do not want to be held accountable for their part in creating a toxic environment for students on campus and would rather blame student leaders than hold one another accountable. Since the protest, all faculty was sent a petition through Change.org to reinforce their commitment to students and their adverse experiences. As of today, only 57 out of 767 faculty members have shown their commitment by signing the petition.
If you are interested in the proceedings of the demonstration follow @DCULV2 on Twitter.
Editor’s Note: Decolonize ULV is a student group that describes itself as “a collective and organized group representing students of multiple social identities.”