By Currier Times Staff//
Those were some of the words flashing across the Zoom chat screen when one of the guest speakers at Curry’s unprecedented and historic community gathering asked how the participants were feeling.
The gathering, called “Showing Up for Each Other: Becoming Authentic; Allies, Advocates, and Accountability Partners,” held Friday afternoon, February 25th, featured passionate pleas from students, administrators and faculty to listen and learn, after a series of hate crimes upended the semester and put Curry College in the media spotlight across the world.
Curry’s president, Kenneth Quigley, started the event by calling it an “important” and “historic” day for the college. Never before in its 143-year history had a mandatory meeting been called for all Curry College students, faculty and staff.
“Your words matter today,” Quigley said. He added the college still had much to do in areas of diversity and creating a more inclusive culture on campus.
Students from across campus spoke emotionally about the impact these incidents have had on them.
Ellen Apotheker, a junior Business and Psychology major, said we needed to remember if it affected one person in the community, it affected all people in the community.
“Silence at a time like this is dangerous,” Apotheker said.
Junior, Nick Najac, said the college needed to do better. “We shouldn’t feel scared living in our home away from home,” he said.
Sierra Fiore, a senior Communication major, said if the community cares, everyone should be upset. “This is a culture problem–and it’s our culture problem,” Fiore said. “We can hold the campus to a higher standard.”
Rabbi Alfred Benjamin, from Milton’s Congregation Beth Shalom of the Blue Hills, in a videotaped message to the audience, brought people back to the horrors of the Holocaust where more than 6 million Jews were murdered. He asked viewers to think about how long 6 million seconds is. After a silence he said, “4167 days. 11 1/2 years.”
Speaker Carole Copeland Thomas, a multicultural and diversity expert, urged the audience to take ownership of this moment and fight back. She said that this month, 14 Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) across the country have been subjected to bomb threats and other hate messages.
“You now share a common enemy with HBCUs,” she said. Thomas added that Curry should reach out to these colleges and learn how they have handled these similar crimes. “Band with them! Learn from each other,” she said.
Breakout sessions allowed participants to offer suggestions on ways forward, noting that this was the start–not the end.
“This is the beginning and continuation of work that will continue to happen,” said Maryellen Kiley, Vice-President of Student Affairs.
For many students, that work can’t come soon enough.