The Allies at MIIS initiative did a lot to raise awareness and provide a variety of opportunities to community members by hosting various speakers and discussion forums on campus during the second half of the semester.
We held two OPEN dialogue forums for our faculty, staff, and students on the topics of Armchair Activism and Toxic Masculinity. The Armchair activism discussion focused on the comfort of being behind a screen vs. the social gain (feeling like a good person) in efforts to create change. The presence of toxic masculinity in various forums on our campus was the depressing highlight of the second dialogue session.
Nadine Vogel was invited to speak about mental health challenges in academic institutions. Her talk highlighted how imperative it was that we at MIIS start focusing on improving mental health services and resources on our campus. I am also happy to report that following Nadine’s talk, I have had discussions with various individuals at both MIIS and MIDD, and I am very hopeful that things will improve in the Fall semester.
Arno Michaelis and Pardeep Kaleka spoke to us about their journey of hate and forgiveness. They inspired us to think about how we navigate through pain and ill-feelings in our lives.
Finally, Willy Wilkinson stimulated our thinking through his book and conversations on the intersections of race, gender, sexuality, and disability. It has indeed been a productive semester.
As activists, we wrote a letter to the Vice-President question the decision to go 100% plant-based from inclusivity framework. We did not receive a response, but I think we made the point and sometimes that is all we can do.
Allies at MIIS will return in Fall 2019 with a new structure. Learning from our experience this semester, we want to bring in new people to the group without forcing them right away into deep discomfort through self-reflection. Instead, we want to build the discomfort slowly through research and study and want to see more of an exchange between students, faculty, staff, alumni, and current students. It has been a tough semester for members of the Allies at MIIS group, but I am confident that with a new structure, we will continue to push ourselves to contribute towards racial equity on our campus.