Saint Martin’s students present faculty with anti-racist iniatitive
Emma Dobbs, Editor-in-Chief
Months of isolation were interrupted this June when groups of protesters gathered in downtown Seattle to rally in support of racial equity. As groups across the nation assembled in support of the Black Lives Matter movement, students of Saint Martin’s University were notified of a racist image posted by a men’s soccer team player. Saint Martin’s Athletic Director Bob Grisham shared on Jun. 4 that the player “admitted to making the post” and was consequently dismissed from the athletic team.
This is not the first act of racism demonstrated by a Saint Martin’s student. In Jan. of 2019, President Roy Heynderickx notified the Saint Martin’s campus community of what he referred to as “a number of racial incidents and acts of microaggression targeting [our] students of color.” Heynderickx specifically referred to an incident over the 2019 Martin Luther King Jr. weekend, “where a racist joke was slipped under the residence hall door of a student of color.”
Citing continued acts of blatant racism, and the continued failure of administration “to further implement anti-racist procedures on [Saint Martin’s] campus,” the Saint Martin’s University Social Justice Commitee presented Saint Martin’s faculty with a proposal for campus-wide anti-racist iniatives.
The Saint Martin’s University Social Justice Committee is chaired by Daisy Miranda, who also serves as the Senator of Cultural Diversity for Associated Students of Saint Martin’s University (ASSMU). Miranda shared that her motivation for presenting anti-racist iniatitives arose from the prominent issues of racism that came to light this summer.
“Between the protests after the murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor and the incidents that occured within our own [Saint Martin’s] community, I really felt like it was time to push for true changes,” says Miranda.
The Social Justice Committee is largely composed of other ASSMU senators, including Senator of International Students Zyon Rodriguez, Senator of Arts and Sciences Katherine Jamerson, Senator of Business Soukita Keopanapay, and Senator of Clubs Cheyenne Yap.
“Being on ASSMU really allowed me to feel like I could really advocate for changes and actually be heard by administration. I recognize that being in my position on the senate allows me to not only have very quick and open connections to administration, but also allows me to connect with so many different people on campus and hear their experiences,” says Miranda.
The Social Justice Committee presented several initiatives that they are asking to be implemented by the end of the 2020-2021 academic year. These proposals include hiring a second administrator for the Diversity and Equity Center (DEC), adding a mandatory introduction to social justice course to Saint Martin’s general education requirements, and recognizing Indigenous People’s Day and Juneteenth as formally observed holidays.
For Miranda, “the most important [initiative] is hiring more faculty and staff that are Black, Indigenous, people of color (BIPOC) and the hiring of a second DEC advisor. It can be really hard sometimes to be at [Saint Martin’s] and be in class and not be able to identify with any of my professors.”
According to the Saint Martin’s web page highlighting campus diversity, 59 percent of first-year students in 2018 identified as ethnically diverse. “[Saint Martin’s] prides itself on having more than half of their student population be BIPOC, but about 80 percent of our faculty and staff are white,” said Miranda.
Miranda believes that the Saint Martin’s community “can only go up from here.” She says that faculty has been receptive to the committee’s proposal, and the community “is beginning to take all the steps in the right direction” to create and implement change.
The Social Justice Committee concluded their proposal with a call to action, writing “it is time to make widespread systemic changes that will positively impact every member of our Saint Martin’s community.” Miranda acknowledges that these changes cannot happen overnight, but says that she is “excited to advocate for these changes” while working with peers and faculty.