A couple of weekends ago, Whitman hosted the annual Reunion Weekend. For a whole weekend, our campus was flooded with Whitman alums strolling around, feeling nostalgic, and reflecting on their days as Whitties. On the Saturday of Reunion Weekend, the Glover Alston Center hosted a student and alumni of color gathering where students and alumni of color were able to share their experiences and support each other. As a student of color myself, I found this event to be beautiful as it encompassed a moment of healing for everyone. It is often difficult having to navigate predominantly white spaces, so seeing these alumni of color come out of Whitman as successful and wholesome beings was very reassuring for me.
The gathering started off with introductions and then we dove straight into reflecting on our experiences as students of color at Whitman. One of the main themes that we discussed what the intimidation that we feel as minorities in a classroom setting, and not being able to contribute to class discussions. Furthermore, we discussed how it is at times difficult to find a community of support as a student that comes from a marginalized background because we are not able to relate to our counterparts in social settings. One of the main takeaways from this gathering was that issues with race, gender, and class follow you and never go away magically. Even when it comes to the workforce, a new set of challenges are imposed and there are always obstacles that we face as people of color in different settings. Although this realization was not encouraging, I did feel a sense of pride in myself and in the people of color around me because it takes a whole lot of courage and resilience to rise above our hardships and learn to cope with them. Being a person of color requires that we work twice as hard as our white counterparts to get to where we want to in life, because of the institutionalized oppression that we face daily. After this gathering, I left with a sense of motivation and purpose. I know that I, too, can be successful. After hearing from the alumni of color, I saw the possibility to transcend the daily obstacles that we face and become who we dream to be.
I give thanks to the alumni and senior Whitman student, Cassandra Otero for organizing this event. After this ground-breaking experience, we must continue this student and alumni of color network to ensure that the students after us can also feel that sense of purpose and motivation. When I become a Whitman alum, I hope to provide support and mentorship to Whitman students that come from marginalized backgrounds because that support is important in order for affirmative action to fully function. Not only should marginalized students occupy this campus, but also need support in order to thrive.