Giving voice to pain

In Morgan Phillips’ op-ed “Is Standing necessary,” (Morgan Phillips; Feb. 27) helps to show that a broad part of campus (a) is misinformed as to the purpose of Stand With Us and the pact and (b) does not understand why people are upset.

Firstly, Stand With Us is here because we stand against discrimination of every kind, i.e. we stand against racist, homophobic, sexist, anti-religious and other intolerant behaviors.

Racism is an important issue, but not the single one here. At the meetings that gave birth to the pact, the attendees realized that there has been a lack of response to racist incidents and, as was referred to in the rally, a prevalence of students feeling like they were guests on the Williams campus – explicitly, that they don’t feel like they belong here.

This brings me to my second point: why are some people so moved and inspired to get up and do something? Put simply, it is because they do see a problem.

At Tuesday’s Second Annual Queer Town Meeting, I witnessed the affirming gathering of queer students, faculty, administrators, local residents and allies. Sadly, as Phillips said, “the people showing up to these sorts of events are themselves not the ones who need to become better informed.” The Queer Town meeting, as well as the rally in Paresky, may not serve those that need to be better informed and help people understand what it is like to be in another person’s shoes.

We at Williams need to start to focus on reaching out to those who don’t understand, not those who do. I earnestly invite Morgan to start talking to people and ask whether they have felt like a guest on this campus. I, in turn, hope Stand With Us will get a chance to talk to you, because I am happy to see that you don’t feel like there is a problem here. It means Williams is doing what it should, which is to make sure you feel comfortable to be yourself. If I am wrong please let me know.

Finally, the problem is not posters taking up space; it is the lack of space to show how open this campus can be and the lack of space to discuss moments of discomfort. Ignorant or intolerant people should “keep any thoughts of this nature” to themselves. People should get to know the identity to which they are the most ignorant of in order to help them realize the outrage they can cause in their current actions.

Mijon Zulu ’09

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