A Letter from Concerned Students in Regard to the Inadequate Response to Black Lives Matter and #JusticeforGeorge from Roger Williams University
Below is a letter from concerned students from Roger Williams University in regard to the University President's inadequate response to Black Lives Matter, the murder of George Floyd, and #JusticeforGeorge. Please sign below to indicate your demand that Roger Williams University actively work to challenge racism, injustice, bias, and the microaggressions in our community.
President Miaoulis and the Roger Williams University Community,
Students are scrambling, trying to organize a response to the heartless email / PR statement that President Miaoulis and Roger Williams University emailed and posted on social media. That statement does not help seek justice or support the movement that is happening once again due to the brutality of the system. Rather this email, condemns the peaceful protests by describing the grief and outrage to the murder of yet another black man by the police as “meeting violence with more violence.” We understand that many of our fellow students, faculty, and many other individuals that reside on the RWU campus do not understand the frustration and rage that we and many others have, due to incapability of not living in our skin.
These recent protests that are occurring spontaneously now, are movements that have been held over the course of 400 years. For hundreds of years people of color have been fighting for the rights that should have been exercised to them. Instead of black and brown people existing as human beings they are surviving with targets on their backs. Over the course of those 400 years millions of innocent black and brown people have been betrayed and tried to their death without a crime. This #blacklivesmatter movement is a movement meant to challenge white supremacy within the United States of America and in all of our communities, including the one here at RWU.
The University acknowledges the tragedies; George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and the other unjust actions that have occurred in America. But it seems to us that the university does not understand or has yet to comprehend that these injustices and inequalities affect a community of students that attend their college. It seems to us that these injustices that many black and brown individuals are experiencing are being swept under the rug all over the world and here at our university. Racism is a global problem. One that over and over again affects the Roger Williams community and leadership:
As students at RWU there have been many incidents where students of color do not feel supported or often alienated through the community here at RWU. For example, the housing department at Roger Williams tells their RAs of color to “educate” people when they are reporting a problem, yet when the problem gets to racial we are told that it is not our job to educate. The school never holds anyone accountable for these micro-aggressions. They say that orgs and clubs on campus lack interest and that is why nobody joins, but the truth is that there is little support for people of color on campus who are student leaders.
Students are required to do very little learning to understand and challenge racism (only a few sessions during orientation week) and are required to do only one day of service work to graduate-NOT one hour of social justice work is required to graduate. The CORE curriculum as a whole is whitewashed and professors are not mandated to address or challenge racism, bias, prejudice, or microaggressions in their classes or their curriculums. In addition, professors who are explicitly racist (such as professors who use racial slurs in the classroom) remain teaching at the university. It is not hard to implement change at Roger Williams University, we are not asking for the intangible. Yet, the school refuses to implement real change.
We refuse to allow our school to stagnate. We refuse to continue using students of color as points towards Roger Williams’s diversity. We refuse to allow the administration to strip us of our humanity. We are students, and we are Latinx, Black, Native, Queer, Trans, Asian, and human. We chose Roger to house, shield, and educate us for a significant period in our lives, but RWU degrees don’t save us from cops, racists, white supremacists, or political corruption. The only way forward is RWU’s vocal, visible support and taking action for “minoritized students.”