A Response to TASA's Call to Action on Black Lives Matter.
Before anything else, we say their names. George Floyd. Breonna Taylor. Ahmaud Arbery. Tamir Rice. Trayvon Martin. Oscar Grant. Eric Garner. Philando Castile. Samuel Dubose. Sandra Bland. Walter Scott. Mike Brown. Pamela Turner. Shantel Davis. Korryn Gaines. Atatiana Jefferson. “And too many more” is a gross understatement. One life lost is too many.
The Office of International Students and Scholars as a unit, as well as its two staff members as individuals, believe unequivocally that Black lives matter.
We also feel that a form letter about diversity will not cut it. Actions speak louder than words. Instead, here is what we have done:
We have marched alongside international students in solidarity against White Supremacy on campus. We have taken to the streets of Hartford to demand accountability for police brutality. We have used our position in the administration to advocate for students’ demands and to serve in the Intergroup Dialogue task force. We have learned that Trinity College leaders of the past, including Nathaniel Wheaton, George Washington Doane, Samuel Seabury were owners of enslaved people or supporters of slavery or the Confederacy. We believe that as Trinity College employees we have the responsibility to actively combat the legacy that these individuals have left on the college. Therefore, we have given money to organizations fighting for Black lives, as well as to individual Black organizers who know how to use our money better than we do.
We will continue to do these things and more. Here is the more:
1.) Although we are wary of placing an unfair burden on educating others on the backs of our Black students, we invite any Black students who wish to speak directly to the international community either on social media or at our international student orientation to contact [email protected]. For example, we invite Black Trinity students to use our Instagram page or email blast system to speak to international students. We offer this invitation out of an acknowledgment that neither OISS staff member is a person of color and that international students would be best served by us stepping aside and letting Black students do the talking.
2.) We commit to working with the Office of Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion headed by Dr. Anita Davis to develop a more comprehensive introduction to diversity and racism in America to share with our international students at orientation or through other channels.
3.) Our office has and will continue to share information directly with our students. We are actively reposting Trinity organizations’ and students’ statements and demands on Instagram, as well as notifying our students of United States laws and immigration status details relevant to international students who choose to protest. We will send this letter to all international students via email and continue to act as a resource for their questions, comments, or concerns.
4.) We will develop a page on our newly redesigned trincoll.edu/oiss website dedicated to informing and providing resources to international students on the legacy of racism in the United States and current dire problems facing all people of color in the United States—especially Black people, Black women, Black queer people, and Black trans people, and those at the intersections of these identities. Our page already contains information on the history of international students at Trinity—some of the College’s earliest non-white students. This new site will also be a space for international students of color to directly share their stories, artwork, and perspectives with the Trinity community. We call on our international students who are speakers of languages other than English to help us provide these resources in as many languages as possible. Anyone who would like to collaborate on this effort, including non-international students, may contact [email protected]
5.) We propose creating a task force of international students and American students of color that will collaborate throughout the semester on methods for building solidarity among these communities on campus. Those who are interested in making this task force may contact [email protected] or [email protected].
6.) We welcome and invite other suggestions, critiques, or advice that any readers might have.
The Office of International Students and Scholars
Katharine Clair, International Student Advisor
Noah Arthur Weber, Summit Fellow for International Student Support