THE SANTA CLARA
September 29, 2016
White students dressed as janitors and pregnant Latinas for Cinco de Mayo. Professors ranting freely on Twitter about undeserving minorities. These were just some of the red flags I looked for when researching colleges my senior year of high school. I was appalled by universities with a long history of questionable incidents and it didn’t matter how much I’d liked the college previously. Red flags are red flags.
The vandalization of the 43 students memorial is a red flag.
The defamation may be a relatively smaller red flag, likely to be buried in our newsfeeds by the end of the month, but those who feel affected and attacked by what happened this past Sunday will not easily forget. This is the kind of inconsiderate hostility that makes students on campus question their place at this school and question Santa Clara’s actual ideology about inclusivity.
The Santa Clara student population unfortunately has a precedent for being insensitive to exhibits and events meant to educate. Last spring quarter, the mock border wall put on by the Santa Clara Community Action Program was vandalized with derogatory comments about immigrants.
Incidents like these impact everyone, not just minorities being “overly sensitive” to these aggressions.
First of all, these blatant acts of ignorance inform our campus of the disrespect students have for cultural events. School-wide disdainful attitudes for cultural events make it unsafe for other groups to share a piece of their lifestyles. No one wants to put themselves out there, reach out to others and educate them, when they know their vulnerability will be rewarded with thoughtlessness.
When we lose our ability to reach out to other cultures, we lose a huge part of our learning experience here at Santa Clara.
College is supposed to be a time of learning and discovering different perspectives. As a Jesuit institution, Santa Clara is built on the “search for truth, goodness, and beauty” and is committed to creating a diverse and inclusive community of students. We should not be shutting each other down before we even get a chance to listen.
I understand not everyone may agree with the message behind the 43 memorial, the wall or a myriad of other events held on campus. However, that does not give anyone the permission to forcibly assert their beliefs and opinions over other groups.
Not agreeing with the message behind these events is one thing, but actively searching for ways to hurt one another is a separate, entirely unproductive thing altogether.
These events are about community and solidarity, not about politics. Yes, displays like the 43 memorial may have ties to the political underpinnings of the government, but they are foremost here to educate and humanize issues we forget are the actual realities of the people all around us. We cannot forget that, behind the rhetoric of the presidential campaign and the sensationalism of the media, there are real people affected.
When I graduate, I don’t want to feel like all that I am is a tickbox for the diversity column. I don’t want to be ashamed of the school I went to. These incidents are the red flags that make me pause whenever a first-year or prospective student asks me whether I like Santa Clara.
I can’t sell someone on the idea of Santa Clara being a safe and welcoming campus when I feel my community is frequently under attack. Let’s start living up to the pillars our Jesuit institution is founded on and not become a campus known for its red flags.