Students of color have been awaiting the announcement that the position previously known as Student of Color Advocate had been filled, and on March 2, Interim President Thomas Mauhs-Pugh sent an email to faculty, staff, and students declaring that it had finally happened.
Adnane Adossama, a current employee of the Academic Support Center and a graduate of Castleton, is stepping into the role of Student of Color Liaison.
This news is being met with excitement from faculty and students, one being Tajae Edwards, senior and co-president of the Castleton chapter of the NAACP.
“It’s really a step in the right direction for me. It was long awaited, but it’s like a sigh of relief to finally hear that someone is fulfilling that position and someone that I know is capable, because I’ve seen the work that Adnane is done and I’ve seen how he interacts with students of color and students overall,” Edwards said.
In fact, Adossama was one of the first people Edwards ever met at Castleton.
“I was sitting, waiting, and I saw him and he approached me and he started just telling me all the opportunities that are available here,” Edwards said.
“I always like to meet new people. And I know that we have such a small community of students of color,” Adossama said, adding that he didn’t want Edwards to miss out on anything because it can be difficult to find opportunities, especially being new to Vermont and Castleton.
Jen Jones, the director of the Academic Support Center, thinks Adossama is a “wonderful choice” for this position.
“It’s really nice to have him as part of our group, our community, just because of just how kind he is,” said Jones, adding. “He was a student here at Castleton, so he knows the struggles that students face, students of color particularly.”
Dean Francesca Catalano, chair of the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee at Castleton, feels similarly.
“He’s got a very calm, relaxed demeanor, and he’s very empathetic. He knows our population, he’s a graduate of our school, so he’s familiar to students,” Catalano said. “I think he’d be amazing at addressing, de-escalating and helping a student who’s in crisis.”
And Adossama wants to provide those services for students.
“I want people to be able to use me as a resource and the position as a resource, you know, have someone to come to when you feel like you’re not being heard,” Adossama said, emphasizing that students can call the Academic Support Center to make an appointment with him. “I’m not a certified counselor, but if you just wanted to talk about anything, please do.”
According to Edwards, Adossama has been at every NAACP chapter meeting, participating and helping to advocate for students. Even before he was being considered for this position, he was pushing for it to be filled because he knew how important it was to the student body.
“The greatest thing that I hope he keeps [doing is] how he advocates for us, regardless of his position … He doesn’t try to, like, protect the college because of his job. He speaks the truth,” Edwards said.
Adossama plans to continue to be a part of the NAACP chapter and continue to advocate for it and its goals. He hopes that this liaison position will allow him to be “a bridge between administration and student life.”
With the recent criticism of Castleton administration by students of color, this kind of position is important, and Adossama recognizes that.
“I think there is a lot to do in terms of our institution. And there’s a lot of policies in place that make it harder than it needs to be,” Adossama said.
He did note that he is a part of the DEI Committee, and that the transformation is impacting how quickly they’re moving forward, but that isn’t stopping him from creating his own goals for his new position.
“I think students don’t know where or how to report incidences. [My immediate goal is] making sure that the knowledge is out there,” Adossama said, adding that he wants the process of reporting incidences to be “universally known” among athletes, coaches, professors, CAs, and more.
“There’s a lot that gets missed. I really want to help students understand that they can, you know, report these issues and not just try to handle it personally. Public safety’s there for them, our deans are there for them. There are policies and procedures in place to help them resolve their issues,” Adossama said.