Joint Statement of the Student Government Association and the Faculty of Trinity College
Published June 2020
As students and teachers in the liberal arts tradition, we know that we can understand an event’s full meaning only by learning its context and its history. To afford Tony McDade, Nina Pop, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd the dignity their murderers denied, we must recognize their place in a tragically long history of Black people being treated in ways no humans should be treated; a tragically long story of Black people’s protests and pleas that powerful white people have refused to hear: “This Fourth of July is yours, not mine.” “We can’t wait.” “I can’t breathe.”
As citizens of this country or any country — as members of one human community — we know we can create a better world. We afford Tony McDade, Nina Pop, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd the dignity their murderers denied when we demand integrity, fairness, and compassion from our leaders; when we show them ourselves; and when we expect them from each other.
As members of a diverse college community, we know that when any life is degraded, all are harmed. But we also know this harm is not felt equally. For those who have known oppression, who fear suffering what they have seen done to people who look like them, such events cause a pain that is profound. To afford Tony McDade, Nina Pop, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd the dignity their murderers denied, we must work to address inequities at Trinity College, where not everyone enjoys the security to live and learn with true freedom and belonging. We must practice in our community the care and commitment to justice we yearn to see in the world.
Racism, in both its systemic form (mass incarceration, redlining policies, police brutality) and interpersonal forms, has never disappeared from the United States as a whole, and this includes Trinity College. To begin, we must recognize the way in which racism permeates this campus, both in its history and in its present. While we have taken some steps forward, there have also been recent steps back; our student body has become more diverse in recent years, but with that gain there has also come more incidents of hate and racism on campus. The struggle against racism at the College requires our continuous efforts to confront our shortcomings and do better; a democratic society calls for such a struggle, and we need to remain dedicated, intentional, and candid. The mission of the College calls us to resist discrimination on our campus.
Specifically, we call upon the Trinity College faculty and student body to engage in their shared enterprise of teaching and learning in the following ways:
- To educate ourselves about the College’s past and our present. In particular, through the academic work that Trinity students have done to understand racism and inequity at Trinity:
- Chiarra Davis’ American Studies Senior Thesis (2017) “The Longest Walk” (http://digitalrepository.trincoll.edu/theses/640)
- Students’ research papers from Prof. Alex Manevitz (’09)’s senior seminar on “The History and Memory of Slavery at Trinity” (http://dsp.domains.trincoll.edu/TrinityAndSlavery/)
- For faculty to address racism and other structural inequities facing this nation and the College in their course offerings and to all commit to creating classrooms that employ the best inclusive pedagogies.
- For students, especially those whose lives have not been impacted by racism, to commit themselves to seek out ways to strive for a more inclusive environment on campus, and to understand the experiences of community members different from themselves, and to support those community members in practicing self-care.
- For every member of the Trinity community to support and get involved (eg. donating, signing petitions, organizing, raising awareness, etc.) with anti-racism organizations including, but not limited to, the following:
We are entering a difficult future. We should enter this future together united by the principles of racial justice and fairness. As a student and faculty body we resolve to honor the ideal that Black Lives Matter.