Editor’s Disclaimer: the author’s usage of capitalization, or lack thereof, is intentional.
bates boasts in its history of having leaders of color such as Benjamin Mays, but neglects to highlight the issues of current student leaders of color. A core piece of the bates mission statement that is contradictory to its practice: “…we engage the transformative power of our differences, cultivating intellectual discovery and informed civic action.” bates does not hold this statement to be true because President Clayton Spencer is performative with her allyship to people of color. A radical assertion: President Clayton Spencer’s performances contribute to more harm than healing.
Back in December 2016, student leaders, along with myself, advocated for a sanctuary campus because of its necessity and symbolism for undocumented and DACA-mented folks. President Clayton Spencer recently released a statement in the Sun Journal stating that Trump targeting DACA immigrants would be a self-defeating action because DACA immigrants “seek the opportunity to learn and grow into productive members of our society.”
As a first generation immigrant with immigrant family members, friends, and lovers, I believe President Clayton Spencer’s statements do not correspond with her decision to reject a sanctuary campus status. I am someone who is seeking to learn and grow in order to work toward a society that works for everyone.
Why is President Clayton Spencer not validating this vision by rejecting a proposal that would bridge solidarity for Somali refugees and bates community members (i.e., sanctuary campus)? Why is President Clayton Spencer not affirming my feelings to celebrate a perspective that engages the “transformative power of our differences”? How can President Clayton Spencer say such things but not apply these ideas on campus?
During the summer, President Clayton Spencer released another statement regarding the investigation of the Women of Color dance during short term. She concluded that it was not a racially charged incident between students of color and bates security but many student leaders and students who witnessed the detainment of our peer would say otherwise. President Clayton Spencer refused to acknowledge racial biases on campus but could release a lazy statement in regards to Charlottesville.
Advertising that bates is an institution that values the development of everyone’s potential by treating people as equal and worthy does not make sense to me in the Bates+Who? context. The grievances of people of color were dismissed and bates allowed our President to determine our own experience with racism. bates doesn’t need to identify white nationalism from afar when there are white nationalists and white nationalist ideologies on campus that haven’t been fully addressed. Even though racial violence doesn’t affect you, President Clayton Spencer, it does affect a lot of people of color on this campus.
There needs to be accountability on the end of the administration to ensure the safety of its community members. bates needs more than statements. bates needs more pragmatic considerations for change: student voices. bates is a small business and if it continues to treat students as customers and consumers then it needs to listen to how students can improve bates for future customers and consumers. This ongoing tactic to put responsibility on students as opposed to administration is doing nothing to address how the institution itself can actualize the change it needs to see. It is easier to perform online than to hold yourself and the institution you represent accountable.