Inside Higher Ed, Students of Color at Haverford College Continue Strike For Racial Justice:
Senior administrators at Haverford College put their own jobs on the line in an effort to address concerns of racial inequities at the college and end a strike led by students of color, which has stretched into a second week.
During a tense listening session via Zoom with Black student organizers and an audience of nearly 300 students and faculty members on Nov. 5, one student using a pseudonym asked President Wendy Raymond to resign “if effective change does not occur” to support students of color, who say they have been treated inequitably for decades. Raymond and other college leaders agreed that if adequate progress is not made, it would be appropriate for them to leave.
“I am here for this work,” Raymond said during the meeting. “And if I am an impediment, if I am not the way forward as president and there is a better way forward for Haverford College to do that, absolutely.”
Students of color started a boycott of classes and campus jobs on Oct. 28 to protest the college’s inaction on changes demanded by students, which they outlined in a letter several months ago amid nationwide protests in response to the killing of George Floyd. About 780 students of 1,373 total enrolled have informed organizers they are participating in the strike, according to Aishah Collison-Cofie, a junior and one of the organizers. Other students have openly and anonymously dissented to the strike due to disagreement with the organizers’ tactics and some of the demands.
Collison-Cofie said students waited for the college to give specific responses and timelines to their previous letter’s demands, such as severing ties with local police and a “reparation fund” toward multicultural programs and facilities on campus. But their patience ran out when Raymond and Joyce Bylander, dean of the college, sent an “insensitive” email to students two days after Walter Wallace Jr., a Black Philadelphia resident, was killed by city police last month. Haverford, a liberal arts and Quaker college, is located minutes from West Philadelphia, where Wallace was shot, and students from the neighborhood attend the college, Collison-Cofie said.
Several students felt compelled to go into the city and join hundreds of others in protest of police brutality, but the administrators’ email discouraged students from doing so. They told students that protesting in Philadelphia “would not bring Walter Wallace back.”
- Philadelphia Inquirer, Haverford Students on Strike After College Officials’ Comments on Walter Wallace Jr. Death
- Haverford Student Newspaper, Conflicting Visions of the Strike’s End as Negotiations Deteriorate (Nov. 10, 2020)
- Haverford Student Newspaper, Contentious Meeting Between Admin, Organizers, Showcases Obstacles to Resolving Strike (Nov. 8, 2020)
- Haverford Student Newspaper, At the Second Sit-In: Reminders of Haverford’s Broken Promises, Optimism for the Future (Nov. 8, 2020)
- Haverford Student Newspaper, Why I’ve Chosen Not to Strike (Nov. 6, 2020)
- Haverford Student Newspaper, A Week Into the Strike, What’s the Path Forward? (Nov. 5, 2020)
- Haverford Student Newspaper, President Raymond Responds to the Strike (Nov. 3, 2020)
- Haverford Student Newspaper, Wendy Raymond’s Response to the HC Strike 2020 Statement & Demands (Nov. 3, 2020)
- Haverford Student Newspaper, As Customs Folks, We’re Going on Strike. Here’s Why. (Nov. 3, 2020)
- Haverford Student Newspaper, Three Days into the Student Strike, the Organizers Have the Momentum (Nov. 1, 2020)
- Haverford Student Newspaper, Hundreds of Students Protest Walter Wallace Jr.’s Death and Haverford’s Response (Oct. 29, 2020)
- Haverford Student Newspaper, As Black Philadelphians Are Terrorized, I’m Ashamed of What Haverford Has to Say (Oct. 26, 2020)