Student-led group sends list of concerns for marginalized students to Byerly

Outside the Skillman Library. (Lauren Fox ’19)

In the last three months, a collaborative effort between groups, organizations and individuals has created a list of concerns to improve conditions on campus for marginalized groups. On Friday, this compilation will be submitted to President Alison Byerly and released to the public. 

Fayola Fair ’19, who played an integral role in leading the group, classified the concerns into six general categories: academic, staffing and faculty, housing and safe spaces, diversity training, economic and associational (Greek life/athletics) concerns. She posted a letter online outlining her concerns and previewing the actual list. The letter, which has more than 550 signatures, was posted on Lafayette College Facebook groups for people to electronically sign it and passed around for physical signatures.

In a few key areas, Fair provided further examples of the changes she hopes for.

Fair noted that black students constitute five percent of the student body, and that the college should therefore “hire at least five percent black or African-American professors.” She said she also suggests “having Lafayette create gender neutral housing for students,” in addition to other social justice reformations.

“So, let’s say a student is non-binary, or a student changes their name to match their identity, having [Lafayette] send that information to their professors, so they’re aware of that,” she said.  

“Also, asking [Lafayette] to implement a different social inequity course in each department, because a lot of students take courses that talk about social inequity outside of their own departments, especially STEM students,” she added. “A lot of the time, it’s hard to see the relation of that course to their general studies.”

President of the Association of Black Collegians Valerie Melson ’17, one of the students who contributed to the letter and the list of concerns, said it was important to allow many groups to participate in the process.

“A number of us thought it would be a good idea to work together to see if we’re all talking about the same thing,” she said. “We’re all discussing that a little more support is needed.”

Fair talked about how this list consolidates the concerns of many students.

“[This is] one list of things that we think the school should focus on and collectively say…‘This is a document of a number of organizations, a number of students, saying this is the support we need,'” she said.

The idea for the list of concerns started in October, when Fair said the blackout movements in protest of police brutality inspired many students to become “more directive in our movement, so we produced a list of concerns for Lafayette to address.”  

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