As I share into this space, I do so with trepidation. My hesitancy is not from the fear of saying the wrong thing, but from the feeling that I am unsure of my right to say much of anything at all right now. The pain people are experiencing in light of the ceaseless miasma of hatred and violence against black lives in this nation must be named – loudly and vigorously – but perhaps best by those living the reality of dehumanization firsthand.
On May 19, when President Maud S. Mandel sent out a campus-wide email announcing that Winter Study will be canceled and that students will only be required to take three courses per semester, the Williams meme page exploded with memes about the announcement. Although very entertaining, these memes reflect a shared sentiment of disappointment, frustration and confusion among students regarding the administration’s decision.
Perhaps one of the most devastating impacts of the global pandemic is how challenging it has become to collectively mourn the deceased. It is easy to become mired in what seems to be an unending parade of loss, but it is more important now than ever not to let the surrounding chaos prevent us from remembering and honoring loved ones who are no longer with us.
To the Williams College Class of 2020:
You are graduating into a world facing challenges unlike any we have seen in our lifetimes. A global pandemic is sweeping the globe, millions of Americans are unemployed, and our country seems as politically divided now as it has ever been.
As I left campus in mid-March, packing up my belongings in a daze and scrambling to say goodbyes, there was one thought constantly circulating through my head: I can’t imagine what it would be like to be a senior right now.
2020 — the perfect vision class! 2000 got the millennium, 2017 had their prime, but vision… there’s a game-changer, and have we ever needed it more?
Friday was the last day of class, the last day of college. I finished off with “PSCI 215: Race and Inequality in the American City” with Assistant Professor of Leadership Studies and Political Science Mason B. Williams. He went above and beyond with online learning to make sure we were all getting adequate professor time; he split us up into small groups and spent significantly more time video calling with us than he would have had to for in-person classes.
When you tell the story of your life and experience at Williams College, of what you did and how you grew during your time here, what will you include and what will you leave out? Do you talk about your frosh entry and the friends you made along the way?
NBC News correspondent Ken Dilanian ’91: Dear Williams grads, we’ve made a mess of things. Please help us clean it up.
Dear Williams Class of 2020:
Congratulations! Neuroscientists say struggle is crucial to learning, so there’s no doubt you will learn a lot over the next few years. America has dug itself in a Mariana Trench-sized hole, and you are at the bottom of it. You are now free to start climbing out. Take us with you, if you don’t mind.
I was the first in my family to receive a high school diploma. Shortly, I will also be the first to earn a bachelor’s degree.