Aya attributed some of her academic troubles to the trauma of having to take Columbia’s current Core Curriculum, which requires students to take a series of six classes with a focus on the culture and history of Western, European civilization. Aya says this focus on the West was highly mentally stressful for her.

“It’s traumatizing to sit in Core classes,” she said. “We are looking at history through the lens of these powerful, white men. I have no power or agency as a black woman, so where do I fit in?”

As an example, Aya cited her art class, where she complained that Congolese artwork was repeatedly characterized as “primitive.” She wanted to object to that characterization but, in the Spectator’s words, was “tired of already having worked that day to address so many other instances of racism and discrimination.”