Over the past year, we have had a dramatic increase in visible hate crimes committed on campus. These are not isolated instances, but indicators of underlying problems at St. Olaf. We strive to be an inclusive community, but for many people St. Olaf is not a comfortable or safe environment.
We are Enough!, a student-led movement to end hate crimes, hate incidents, and the culture that engenders, excuses, and encourages them at St. Olaf College.
In this academic year alone we have publicly observed:
· The phrase “What’s up with all the niggers?” written on a poster in Rand residence hall
· The vandalism of the Sexual Assault Resource Network’s hallway in which the “not” sign from a series of posters reading “Rape, that’s not funny.” was torn down three separate times
· The manipulation of an Oles for Justice in Palestine informational poster which read “Death in Gaza” to read “Death TO Gaza”
· The theft of two Palestinian flags from the Oles for Justice in Palestine awareness hallway
· The recurring theft of rainbow flags from the St. Olaf Queer Support and Outreach honor house
· And lastly, all of the incidents and micro-aggressions that go unreported on a daily basis.
We have had Enough!
Furthermore, the incidents and crimes listed above are only the external manifestation of a unrecognized culture of intolerance and ignorance. These isolated incidents are then justified by the institutionalized structure that does not penalize or educate those who commit these hate acts. As the primary source of revenue for the college, we are concerned about how our tuition money is being utilized. Our communal ethic permits these things to happen and the culture of this campus engenders intolerance and allows ignorance through the structural injustices at the institution.
· Departments that tend to include curricula that work against racism, sexism, homophobia, religious intolerance, etc. systematically receive less funding than other departments.
· These departments also tend to be interdepartmental, meaning that they are not permitted the ability to hire, fire, or tenure faculty.
· The only full-tenured professor who is not white is Dr. Anton Armstrong, which demonstrates a lack of representation of professors of color.
· Student organizations that deal with issues of equality tend to be underfunded when compared to other student organizations.
· The system for reporting hate crimes or hate incidents is unknown and unacknowledged.
o We noticed that the college’s website information regarding which hate crimes need to be reported has been altered since we began the movement on March 11th, and the changes were an improvement. However, they were not publicly announced, and consequently students and other community members were unaware of the change.
· Campus guests – such as political speakers, musicians, lecturers, etc. – overwhelmingly maintain a white, upper-class, heterosexual, Christian, male bias.
We have had Enough!
These institutional examples evidence the college’s bias toward one normalized experience, disregarding those who do not fit within those same categories. The institution claims to advocate for a diverse campus without the critical self-reflection that would make the changes necessary to achieve that vision.
No real progress can be made without broader consciousness at a campus-wide level, and that is why we are here. Our mission is to bring attention to the issues on campus, both incidental and institutional, and demand sustainable changes that would have a direct impact for the betterment of the community.
Therefore, these are our immediate demands of everyone who lives and works on this Hill:
· Recognize the urgent need for and execute a mandatory, campus-wide conversation about these issues.
· Publicize any changes to policies that directly affect the student body, not excluding recent changes to the published policy on hate crimes and mandatory reporting.
· Reevaluate the Multicultural-Domestic (MCD) and History of Western Culture (HWC) curricula:
o MCD – introduce critical, theoretical framework and apply said framework in all courses (e.g. Theories of Oppression, Critical Race Theory, Queer Theory, etc.).
o HWC – ensure that courses match the neutral claim on Western culture.
· Require training for faculty, staff and administration on the realities of these issues and how to address them in classes and on campus.
· Continually assess the community and strive for a more inclusive and respectful environment.
We call on you to join with us as part of the solution.
Let’s transform these ideals and others to action.