I guess fabric softener can now be added to the list of things that are human rights? You think I’m kidding but this group of students at Sarah Lawrence College calling themselves the “Disapora Coalition” held a day-long sit in and then issued a list of demands premised on their bona fides as people of color in pain.
We, the Diaspora Coalition, are a group of students who can speak to the injustices imposed on people of color by this institution on a daily basis. The Diaspora Coalition was established this fall in order to address the pain of marginalized students as well as to advise the administration on how to best address this pain. Each of us has seen this administration repeatedly diminish the hard work of student activists who merely want a quality education and the personalized curriculum that SLC promises.
Sounds serious. And here are the first three demands in their, ahem, laundry list:
- Sarah Lawrence must commit to actualizing the value that housing is a human right.
The College must provide winter housing to students at no charge. This housing must include a communal kitchen with dry goods from the food pantry available for all students.In the extreme case that housing cannot be provided to students during break due to housing probation, the school must provide a list of local low-cost, free, and/or accessible housing options for students.
- The College will designate housing with a minimum capacity for thirty students of color that is not contingent on the students expending any work or labor for the college. This housing option will be permanent and increase in space and size based on interest.
- All campus laundry rooms are to supply laundry detergent and softener on a consistent basis for all students, faculty and staff.
So housing is a human right and thus, students should be provided free housing (demand #1) without working for it (demand #2). Students should also be given free detergent and fabric softener (demand #3) so maybe this is also a human right? Or maybe it’s an emanation from the penumbra of the right not to smell like marijuana and patchouli oil? They’ll work all of that out later. But for now, it’s simple: Tide pods for the people!
It’s worth mentioning that Sarah Lawrence College is one of the most expensive schools in the country with an annual tuition of $52,600 as of last year (ranking it 20th nationwide).
All of this would be amusing if it weren’t for some more disturbing demands that pop up later in the list. The protesters make it clear they want professors who are in strict ideological agreement with the principles of intersectionality:
- We demand that the College offer classes that embody intersectionality, as defined by Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw, and address the racial diversity of the LGBTQ+ community instead of centering whiteness.
- The aforementioned classes must be taught by professors who are a part of the culture they are teaching about.
Then the group singles out a conservative professor who wrote something they didn’t like. The group demands that he be put up for tenure review before a group made of of their members (despite that fact that he already has tenure) and demands he issue a public apology [Emphasis in the original]:
On October 16, 2018, politics professor Samuel Abrams published an op-ed entitled “Think Professors Are Liberal? Try School Administrators” in The New York Times. The article revealed the anti-Blackness, anti-LGBTQ+, and anti-woman bigotry of Abrams…We demand that Samuel Abrams’ position at the College be put up to tenure review to a panel of the Diaspora Coalition and at least three faculty members of color. In addition, the College must issue a statement condemning the harm that Abrams has caused to the college community, specifically queer, Black, and female students, whilst apologizing for its refusal to protect marginalized students wounded by his op-ed and the ignorant dialogue that followed. Abrams must issue a public apology to the broader SLC community and cease to target Black people, queer people, and women.
As Reason’s Robby Soave has pointed out, professor Abrams office door was vandalized after his article appeared in the NY Times:
Abrams’ office door was vandalized on October 16, hours after the op-ed’s publication. The perpetrators posted a sign on the door that read, “Our right to exist is not ‘ideological,’ asshole,” and was signed “transsexual fag.” Another flyer demanded that he apologize to residence life staff and the director of campus diversity, students of color, queer students, trans students, and other marginalized persons. Multiple messages instructed Abrams to “quit,” and one told him to “go teach somewhere else, maybe Charlottesville.”…
Several of Abrams’ colleagues met with [president Cristle Collins] Judd to discuss the vandalism and express their view that such acts could not be tolerated. Judd agreed, but did not pledge to take any further actions. These professors thought she seemed scared that the students might hold more protests, creating a public relations disaster, according to Abrams.
Professor Abrams spoke with President Judd to discuss the situation during which she told him he had created a “hostile work environment.” When they met in person, Judd suggested Abrams was back in the job market, despite the fact that he is a tenured professor. This is all starting to seem very reminiscent of what happened at Evergreen State College. President Judd may want to look into Evergreen’s subsequent enrollment numbers before she commits fully to backing the protesters.
Here are two clips of the Diaspora Coalition in action:
Students continue the protest at the window of President Judd’s office. pic.twitter.com/JTd6vO2omL
— The Phoenix (@SLCPhoenix) March 12, 2019