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Continue to engage in activism and discourse

On Wednesday, Jan. 24, 2018 several student leaders and I presented, negotiated and led a sit-in with the intent of establishing concrete change for our campus community. Though criticized, I want to take time to reflect on the Galpin Call-in 2018. During times of social activism, reflection is essential. How could we possibly make our social movements, writings and ideas better without critically reviewing them? The purpose of this Viewpoint is to reflect on Wednesday’s activities while also addressing the need for future activism and discourse. In particular, I want to highlight the efforts of those who should not go unappreciated.

The success of our Galpin Call-in hinged upon background leadership, participation and service. Student leaders who helped organize the Call-in, but were not present in the deliberation room, were imperative to the group’s success. Students walking out of classes encouraged an administrative response. Our Call-in remained active because of the Center for Diversity and Inclusion and Dean of Students offices passing out food and water. Creativity through photography and story-telling assisted in spreading the message. Students took ownership for our stay in Galpin by cleaning up. I want to thank you all; we all share part of the success for our Galpin Call-in.

But there is more work ahead, and it begins with holding The College of Wooster, ourselves and each other accountable to the goals we have presented. To begin, included in the College’s formal response to our demands should be a detailed plan of action, including who will oversee each demand. Remember, accountability is a two-way street.

Students: check-up administrative efforts — if a demand hasn’t been met by the described time, follow-up with the cited individual.

Administrators: keep up with your end of the bargain so that you can be the one who proactively announces how, to what degree and when each demand has been met.

Faculty, staff and students: we need to continue engaging in constructive dialogue and educational opportunities pertaining to issues of diversity, inclusion and campus community values. This means reflecting on the classes you are taking and teaching, checking your privilege and learning to listen.

Finally, with respect to my personal reflection, regardless of how myself and other students went about things last Wednesday, we left Galpin Hall with more accomplished than when we entered. To me, that is a success. However, just because Wednesday’s Call-in was organized, it certainly does not mean things happened perfectly. Student organizers, including myself, should have been more cognizant of the inclusivity of our protests and demands — though we tried our best, more could have been done.

Consequently, there is continued room for dialogue and discourse surrounding activism on The College of Wooster’s campus. I encourage all campus community members to participate in these dialogues. But in particular, I implore students and student groups who felt underrepresented, unheard and unsupported by Wednesday’s protest to reach out to those invested in these conversations. We all have a stake in this community, and we all deserve the opportunity to be heard.

Colleen Gilfether, a Contributing Writer for the Voice, can be reached for comment at CGilfether18@wooster.edu.

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