Students of color at Ithaca College have been fighting for racial justice for years. There have been countless instances of racial bias and discrimination at the college, and, many times, students’ voices have been disregarded by other members of the campus community. Despite this, students of color have not given up on their efforts. Even amid the pandemic, students are still holding virtual discussions to combat these issues.
On Oct. 6, the Student Governance Council partnered with the Students of Color Coalition (SOCC) to host the Stand for Justice webinar to discuss ways to address racism at the college. The goal of the webinar was to share goals and strategies that people of color want to see implemented at the college. The SGC and SOCC should be commended for collaborating on this event. The SGC’s willingness to work with the SOCC, starting from adding the SOCC senator position in January, demonstrates the SGC’s commitment to diversity and inclusion at the college. Events like these, that consist of fruitful discussion and action steps, reinforce that racial equity is important and needs to be efficiently addressed — something that students of color may not always feel from the administration.
However, these events are not beneficial if they exist in a vacuum. Students of color should not be the only ones attending these meetings. They are aware of the issues they face and the changes they would like to see. Students can advocate all they want, but if they do not have allies who have structural power at the college, their demands will not be met. If white members of the college community want to consider themselves allies, they also need to show up to events like these, listen to these concerns and reflect.
Time and time again, students are the ones taking matters into their own hands. Students provided a number of solutions for the college to address at this meeting, including altering the college’s diversity statement, implementing mentors for students of color and a more comprehensive bias accountability system and prioritizing anti-racist curricula. The students have made their requests clear, and it is up to the college to make the changes.