AN OPEN LETTER TO THE OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT

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 By the Coalition Against Racist Education Now (CARE Now)

This piece includes summaries of the demands CARE Now has published in the full, 12-page version of this open letter with the history, context, means, and ends of what we want. Read the full letter at bit.ly/dearmaud 

We are the Coalition Against Racist Education Now (CARE Now), an active and growing collective of student activists born out of resistance to the 2018 faculty petition on the Chicago Statement. We follow in the footsteps of our predecessors: the original 1988 CARE was a Black and PoC-led movement that sought justice for minoritized peoples in response to lacking institutional support for queer and PoC students and faculty. Over 30 years later, we are fighting these same fights. We garnered almost 400 student and alumni signatures in protest of predatory and hate speech in the fall of 2018. We organized a 200-strong March for the Damned on February 25th after the departures of Professors Kai Green and Kimberly Love due to the violent practices of the College.

On April 12th, we presented the Board of Trustees with a similar list of demands tailored to their fiduciary role, and met with two trustees the following morning. The board failed to provide a public response to any of our demands by claiming that these issues fall under the purview of campus governance. This avoidance of responsibility is unacceptable, given that these demands are largely the same as what has been asked for over the past ten, twenty, fifty years. Thus, we now turn inward to hold ourselves accountable as a campus and ask that you join us in working towards making Williams a place we all can love. This document is more specific than the one presented to the trustees because as an administrator, these details are your responsibility. Additionally, as Williams is a faculty-governed institution, we urge you to spearhead conversation about demands specific to the Williams faculty and staff, rather than wait for others do it first (bystander apathy). Part of what has impeded the progress of similar movements in the past has been the co-option and dilution of their messages, and we hope the longer version of this document clarifies our position and clears the way for progress. In the spirit of attempting to overcome institutional inertia, we ask that you respond to these demands with a clear plan of action by Friday, April 26th at 5pm EST. A plan to form committees is not a plan of action, unless those committees are directed for the purpose of implementation only.

0. We demand a complete process of reconciliation to Indigenous peoples including the increased hiring and admittance of Indigenous faculty, staff, and students as well as the repatriation of life and land back to Nations impacted by the College’s ongoing settler occupation. The College must take concrete steps towards reconciliation, such as funding a multi-year fellowship for an outside researcher to investigate Williams’ history and relationship with slavery and the dispossession of Indigenous peoples.

1. We demand Williams College improve accessibility on campus, expand the Office of Accessible Education, create funds for urgent health needs, and streamline support for medical leave.

2. We demand increased admission and hiring of students, staff, and faculty with diverse abilities.

3. We demand the College increase funding to the Office of Institutional Diversity and Equity (OIDE), meant to be directed to the Davis Center, to reflect the growing number of minoritized students on campus and address the OIDE’s responsibility to the faculty. 

4. We demand a thorough, external, and independent investigation into the practices and conduct of CSS, focusing on officer interactions with minoritized students. This must be accompanied by mechanisms for prevention and response to abusive and/or racist instances.

5. We demand the preservation and expansion of campus affinity spaces and their resources.

6. We demand a structure of sexual violence accountability which centers survivors rather than institutional stability.

7. We demand the necessary supports such that survivors can function and heal on our campus.

8. We demand the college implement measures of accountability for perpetrators of physical or sexual violence. 

9. We demand the College increase pay to a living wage and eliminate pay inequity for staff in Dining Services and Facilities.

10. We demand the College create permanent and unmitigated networks of support for junior faculty of color.

11. We demand the expansion of Ethnic Studies and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies by hiring new faculty and establishing new fellowships.

12. We demand the establishment of enrollment options and teaching fellowships in Native Studies, Trans Studies, Disability Studies, and Fat Studies.

These demands exist because we love Williams. They exist because the parts of Williams that we love exist in contradiction with the practices of the institution. Our love for the communities we have curated for ourselves is violated when the campus chooses to deprioritize accessibility, our spaces and bodies are over-policed by CSS, and we exist in constant fear of no contact orders being violated. Our love for Rice House and Black spaces on this campus is overshadowed by the absence of affinity housing as an option and the lack of affinity spaces for other minoritized people on campus. Our love for Black faculty is circumscribed when there are too few to love: when requests for an Africanist are neglected and existing professors are inadequately supported. Our love for the idea of liberal arts is undermined when there are gaping holes in the curriculum caused by the departures of faculty of color, and non-hegemonic systems of knowledge are constantly delegitimized. Our love for the staff who work so hard to keep this institution running is agitated by the pay inequities they face, as well as their lack of job security, inability to advocate for themselves, inability to speak out against the administration about their problems, and unjust working conditions. The list of paradoxes goes on.

We love Williams. All we are trying to do is make the Williams we love, love us.