The state of the Multicultural Student Organization (MSOs) address is an opportunity for a panel of students to tell their stories of being students of color at a predominately white institution (PWI). The student panel included: Kendall Collins-Riley (’19), Rebecca Mais Cubero (’20), Michael Pineda (’21), Hannah Baird (’20), with Kathleen Muloma (’19) serving as the master of ceremonies (MC). The students mainly talked about the issues surrounding Hope’s administration and its response, or lack thereof, to specific incidences of racial discrimination on and around campus.
These incidents date back to as far as 2016, when the panel of students were underclassmen. One of the panelists talked about friends being confronted in Hope buildings, specifically being threatened by white students around the time of Donald Trump’s election. But even more telling was that the resources that could have helped students of color and properly punish the perpetrators either did not exist or were not sufficient enough to help in racial incidents. This discussion is not to say that Hope is not making attempts to strive toward inclusion. The message is that the college can do some things better and implement new strategies or programs to help students of color thrive.
The discussion was a refreshing, truth-telling event. Each of the panel members told the stories of others as well as their own stories, describing themselves being put into uncomfortable positions where they were being stereotyped, meaning that the view of minority groups is unfortunately based on, in the eyes of many people, one specific person or group. After the panel was done with their discussion, a new discussion was formed from the audience. There were numerous important questions raised, which included: “How do white students better support students of color?” The responses to this question can lay the groundwork for change. One of these included the idea that students of color should talk to their friends and persuade them to become involved, to see if those that they see as friends are allies.
Having these allies is just as important as having students of color fighting every day for change. From their position, they can change more by getting other people to join forces with them. The dialogue started in the address is great, but until real action occurs, the dialogue is just dialogue on a transcript. Hopefully with this conversation, the Hope community can make campus even more inclusive for current and future students. The State of the MSO address is an annual event, so 2020’s speech will hopefully come with more change within the next year.