My name is Saode Ruben Somda, but I go by Ruben. I am a first-year student majoring in Graphic Design and I am very disappointed at this school right now.
I am utterly dumbfounded to see what is currently happening regarding Black History Month. I have seen little to no celebration of black culture on campus and find it hard to believe that it’s even a federally recognized month anymore. I had no expectations regarding this month and was fully prepared to be wrong yet what I have seen so far is below the nonexistent bar that I set. We as students of color should not be made to feel as if it is our responsibility to make these things a reality. We should not be the only ones at the forefront of celebrating such an important month like this, and we should not have to be made to feel as if our opinions matter only for them to be taken as suggestions and then swept under the rug.
What this has shown me is that there was little to no thought at the beginning of the year before this month to truly celebrate black culture as it should be celebrated this month. Why was there no discussion before the NAACP existed on celebrating the entire month? Why weren’t people consulted regarding what to do? Why wasn’t enough time dedicated to this? And why does it directly fall on our shoulders as black students of color to actively make space to see ourselves be represented on campus? We should not have to wade through dark and murky waters only to feed excuses.
This makes me wonder why the Black Lives Matter flag is even flying on campus. That flag should be a vow that you make and actively seek to keep. A vow to actively create spaces for your black students of color and for all students of color to feel safe, represented, and seen. A vow to scrutinize the ways things have been run and to do your part in finding ways to educate and continue educating the student body on the importance of inclusion. So far, I have seen and heard nothing to make me feel as if there is change going on.
I feel immensely disappointed at what I witness day in and day out on this campus in regards to the efforts being made to actively educate the populace on the importance of acknowledging the school’s flaws and becoming better. I have heard it all from friends on campus who have gotten assaulted, verbally harassed, mocked, judged, and accused all because of their skin color and culture who have felt nothing but frustration for the school’s unwillingness to do enough to ensure that there is justice for these events. Time and time again I have been disappointed by the hurdles I have had to jump to understand information that should have been easily available. The policies put in place are not accessible and when they’re implemented, they do nothing.
I do not see the culture that Castleton claims it is trying to foster and feel as if I have been lied to regarding the efforts made in creating safe, diverse, and inclusive places on campus from the administration. Your current words do not match your actions and I have to ask, are you actively trying to uphold the promises you made to yourself in making the school more inclusive of the voices and experiences of your students of color?
I’m exhausted, I’m tired, I’m angry, and I’m so so sad.
I’m done praising mediocrity. I’m done with being expected to carry the weight change. I’m done hearing excuses from others, and I’m being told time and time again that “it’ll get better” and that there will be change. I want to be able to experience those changes. Yes, I want to leave knowing that I’ve done my part to make this a better place, but I also need to experience those changes. I can’t keep on hoping that something will change and that maybe, just maybe, it won’t be as brutal anymore. There’s only so much effort I can give on my part before I start to burn out, but I can’t sit down and do nothing while there is something so disorganized right in front of me that needs to be fixed.
This is my message to you Castleton. I expect better. I want things to be better and I need you to understand that I will not be the only one advocating for myself anymore. If you say you want to bring change then do it. Educate yourself and step up. I need to see strides being made and that begins with addressing what is lacking in your current attention and I want more accountability from the administration regarding policies.
My voice will not be ignored.