Admin may listen, does not hear us


Guilford College was founded on the Quaker values of community, integrity and equality. Guilford based its values on these three Quaker testimonies that not only dictate student conduct, but also form a framework for the actions and decisions made by our administration.

Upon my enrollment at Guilford, I felt elated to be a part of a community that didn’t merely talk about what they believed in, but brought those beliefs to the forefront of everyday life. Daily actions may be taken for granted, and yet, to stand by those values means to consistently hold oneself and each other accountable without discrimination. I believed that I had found a community willing to continuously work toward that greater ideal.

The campus that I walk on today lies in a strange purgatory between wanting the dream of uniform student safety with all the might of social justice and activism, and falling short of not only the reality of that dream, but also the consequences wrought by claiming significant progress initially.

Weeks after the sexual assault of a trans student of color, we are no closer to even dreaming of what Guilford could be because we seem to disagree at the root about the current reality of the situation.

As I walked around those next few days, people talked about what a shame it was that there were no more banners lining the path to Founders hall. According to a friend of mine, the first of those banners to be cut was justice.

The Facebook page created for Guilford’s class of 2020 became a hotbed for such various sentiments as prayers for the person assaulted, scathing incriminations to “act your age and not your shoe size, and have some respect for this campus” and the desperate pleas of fellow students trying to get their classmates to care.

From speaking to students of many different designations, majors and varying levels of privilege, I gathered that students feel that the administration is receptive to their concerns but does not act effectively.

In response to a survey I created, sophomore Olivia Winder said, “Yes, the administration listens to concerns. That much is clear. They listen, but they don’t take action to fix the problems. Maybe a more appropriate term is ‘hear.’ The (administration) hears us.”

Another student respondinh to the survey question of whether they felt safe expressing their concerns to members of Guilford’s administration bluntly replied, “Yes, because I am white.”

This sentiment was echoed by many students that I spoke to. Other students reported having absolutely no problem dealing with members of the administration, one even describing a heartfelt letter they received from the dean of students regarding concerns they had about the College.

However, and I say this as a student who is unafraid to engage fully with campus leadership and Guilford’s administration, this does not negate the importance of asking the most important questions.

Why are students afraid to come to their administration? What can we do as a campus? What can the administration change about the way they work in order to address the needs of all students?

Unless we start answering those questions, we cannot assert “our collective commitment to the earnest pursuit of living out our core values” as President Jane Fernandes would like us to. We certainly can’t do it without the unwavering support and effort by the administration of Guilford. Until then, our values are represented by nothing but torn fabric in the wind.