a student-run publication that seeks to provide space for voices that are not being heard on our campus. we are grounded by politics that are radical, anti-racist, anti-sexist, anti-classist, anti-homophobic, anti-ableist, and anti-transphobic (against all forms of oppression) and that reject the structural neo-liberal paradigm that characterizes middlebury college and its official publications
As the world grapples with the results of this election, I sit in my room filled with worry and anxiety. I fear for the years ahead. I fear for the past, present, and future victims of the hateful rhetoric with which Donald Trump ran for presidency and won. Van Jones rightfully categorized it; these elections were a ‘White lash against a changing country’ that has swept across western ‘democracies’ only to instill fear and divisiveness. Hate has won the seat at the White House, and the livelihoods of marginalized people within and outside our borders are at risk.
I am also worried about the current state of our community. Our shared values of empathy, altruism, and compassion first taught to us by our families and then by you were muffled by the screams of a self-centered egotistic man who appealed to the most primitive fears inside all of us. Our community is at risk of being further invaded by intolerance, short-sighted rhetoric, and bigotry. If anything, this election has taught us humility, as it was the elitism inside our ideals that did not allow us to see outside our liberal bubbles. As progressives, we failed the country and those who depended on us to enact social change.
Fall term is ending and J-term and Spring term are fast approaching. Although I am excited to learn and be inspired, I must say that I am concerned as to how this hateful rhetoric will impact the quality of our education, especially for minorities who already resist the ever more visible seeds of prejudice growing on our campus. There will be days when the weight of the world will feel like it is on our shoulders. There will be days when all we want to do is lay in bed as our minds are cluttered and our hearts are heavy. In class, we’ll be more silent than usual, visibly upset, and unable to focus on your lesson. We’ll be forced to take time aside to take care of our mental health and those around us. We don’t want special treatment; we want to be understood.
Students do want our ideals to be challenged and we do want to understand the other side; however, we will not allow hate to grow in our classrooms and neither should you. Let’s not pretend that what happens outside of the classroom in our campus, in the country, and in the world won’t affect classroom dynamics. Do ask us about our current stress levels, do asks us what our mood is, and do offer compromises that can alleviate the stress and the grief we endure. Let’s step out of our roles as students and educators so that we see both the fragility and the resilience of our humanity.
We understand that to engage across the differences that have divided our country we must recognize that the fault of our PC culture is that it exacerbates the echo-chambers of our liberal bubbles. It’s time to realize that the vision that we have for our community will only be drafted once we create an environment that calls in first and then calls out. To listen first and then educate, to allow people to use the vocabulary that they know, then inform them of the historical implications of their words. Words become actions; hate and ignorance becomes violence. This is a job that we all, not just minorities, should be doing. Therefore, professors, lead us by example: do address contested issues, do offer your opinion on how to look at a problem, do call-in for more open discussions, but also do call-out harmful rhetoric. That is a fine line that anyone is yet to comprehend, but we trust in you to make that choice. Understand that we are still your students, but we are also now more than ever avid activists.
Amid the implications of a Trump presidency I think that we, activists, also feel guilty for feeling excited about the strength that our movements will have. In the wake of elections, a friend told me: “It was strangely a little easier to get out of bed this morning because I realize now more than ever how important our visions are. How essential they are. That’s enough fuel for the fire.” They are not wrong. A Trump presidency is the ultimate call for those who remain passive to act towards social issues; you can help us.
Historically, social revolutions start in institutions of learning and our college should not be the exception. This is a time for students to be proactive, to be loud, and lead the resistance against policies that will harm members of our community, but we can’t do it alone. We need your guidance, wholesome insight, and constructive criticism to further our causes. That same friend shared this with me: “Our dreams don’t fit in their ballot boxes. So, let’s put our votes in the ballot boxes, and our dreams in the streets.” This is not a fight a single person can do, but it’s also not a fight if we don’t do it together.