Creating A More Inclusive Colgate

Creating+A+More+Inclusive+Colgate

Allana Edwards, Class of 2017

The Association of Critical Collegians’ (ACC) demonstration at the Office of Admission was one of the most unforgettable experiences of my life. When I first heard of the idea of a sit-in, I was a bit skeptical. I wasn’t sure it would work and, of course, I feared how we would be perceived by the general public of Colgate. However, after serious consideration and thought on the action plans and concerns, I realized how important this was for the future of Colgate and how much a peaceful sit-in could impact the overall decisions of the administration. I also knew that I had a lot to offer to the cause and, as a student of color, this demonstration and these action plans directly affected my experience at this school. Therefore, I decided to participate and offered to help in any way I could.

The physicality of the sit-in was brutal. Many did not shower for days; the floor was hard and cold, and if you slept, you didn’t get as much rest as you needed. Every morning we had to wake up at 7 a.m. so that the space could be presentable by 8 a.m. It was definitely difficult, but we were able to ignore our fatigue. It was important to stay energized and focused and to remember what we were sitting-in for.

That first day in Admissions was the hardest. Listening to the stories of my classmates, including those of first-years who had not even been at Colgate for a month, broke my heart. I found myself fighting back tears through most of it. But I believe that those eight hours of listening were some of the most important of the entire sit-in; the administration finally saw the psychological damage the current climate has caused. There was no denying that there was a problem; it was all set out in front of their eyes. I believe it was then that they understood that change was necessary.

Creating an inclusive, diverse Colgate is a goal which is near and dear to the hearts of everyone in the ACC. The ACC founders worked many hours to draft clear and concise plans for the administration to put in place and to keep everything during the sit-in as organized as possible. They understood that an unorganized demonstration would not accomplish much and it was important to maintain a level of professionalism. Any time things got hectic or disorganized, our founders brought us in and re-established order while reminding us of the overall goal.

While it was exciting to have articles about our movement on well-known forums, it was never our intention to shame the school. I saw it as inspiration for others to try to change the social climate at their own schools through activism. Colgate is our school too, and we want to make it a better place for everyone, not just the majority. It is also important to note that the ACC cannot control what blogs and newspapers write about the movement.

It was overwhelming at times to see the support we got from faculty members, students and so many staff members. Their continued support helped us keep our spirits high and give us that push we needed at various times during the sit-in. Thanks to the generosity of many departments and professors at Colgate, we always had enough food to eat through our 100 hours in Admissions.

We were never exclusive. Never. The ACC invited everyone, regardless of whether they supported us, didn’t fully understand or agree with our cause, or were generally curious about what we had to say. If you still didn’t agree, you were always free to leave. But if you were with us, the ACC definitely encouraged you to stay. The invitation is still and will always be open.

For those who were with us during the sit-in, whether you walked in with us on Monday morning or joined us for the last few hours, we thank you so much for your support and involvement in the movement. For those of you who spread the word about our cause, who offered moral support or encouraging words, we thank you as well. Support truly guided us through this movement, and will continue to do so. The movement does not end here. The ACC will continue to work our hardest to proceed with the 21-point plan and work toward building a better, inclusive Colgate University.