Open Letter - November 10, 2016 Skip Navigation

Open Letter to the Colgate Community and, Especially, to Our Students

November 10, 2016
To the Colgate community,

We are at a very difficult crossroads: we witness the chasms that seem to divide us as people in the United States and across the globe. As we have seen over the past year, these distances and differences often take clearest form in our political contests: in the impasse that marks so many conversations on critical issues and in our individual and communal allegiances to the ideologies that guide — and divide — us.

This historical moment is a time of great social unrest, but also of great social change, and our college on a hill is not separate from either this unrest or this change. We bring hope and commitment to do the difficult work that will lead not to an erasure of our differences but rather to a deeper understanding of those differences and greater solidarity, inclusivity, and commitment to each other. We believe that this is a commitment we all must embrace as we work toward a just world.

We are continually inspired by our students, who have called us to live up to our mission to be a just, equitable, and inclusive community. The 2014 sit-in was one of the first of an ongoing wave of calls for racial justice, inclusion, and equity on campuses across the nation. Additional student protests and grassroots activism, particularly around the issue of sexual assault, have continued to bring us steps closer to becoming the Colgate we aspire to be. We honor our students and thank them for the risks they have taken to engage our campus in difficult conversations as we work toward change. We appreciate our administration's responsiveness to this activism, particularly as we have watched administrations on other campuses refuse to engage similar calls for change. We see how deeply our community has worked —through many academic departments and programs, in our many committees and centers, through our curriculum, and in the rich offerings of residential and campus programming and support services — to examine and resist the hierarchies that devalue, dehumanize, and divide.

Our lives are deeply interconnected: the oppressions we face are interlocking, systemic, and deeply historical. We see and face our own complicity — both personal and institutional — in these systems; it is a complicity that is an inextricable part of our beloved institution. We stand with explicit resistance and critique of white supremacy, patriarchy, classism, and all systems of oppression. We stand with activists across the nation, those representing Black Lives Matter, Dakota Pipeline, queer and trans rights, reproductive justice, and activists working against anti-Muslim violence, sexual violence, and for the rights of undocumented people.

We write to you, now, publicly, to commit ourselves to the work we have yet to do, not only in engaging in difficult conversations more overtly as a community, but also in working toward actual sustained structural change in our own institution and beyond. We embrace this challenge and opportunity to grow as a community and to build solidarity across our many differences.

We call ourselves and our community to do this work ever more publicly, collectively, and overtly in our curriculum and programming, bringing all of us into conversation with each other and continuing the work of building a campus community to which we most aspire.

In hope and solidarity,
The Women's Studies Advisory Board