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Seattle Univ. Students Demand: Decentralize 'Whiteness'

A group of students calling themselves the MRC Coalition are occupying the office of Jodi Kelly, the dean of Seattle University's Matteo Ricci College. The occupation, complete with pillows and blankets, began on May 11.

The students are demanding that Kelly resign, new professors from "marginalized backgrounds" be hired, for all faculty members to attend training from a local anti-racist organization and a new curriculum, notes The Seattle Times.

An online petition posted by the student group calls for a new curriculum that: "Decentralizes Whiteness and has a critical focus on the evolution of systems of oppression such as racism, capitalism, colonialism, etc., highlighting the art, histories, theologies, political philosophies, and socio-cultural transformation of Western and non-Western societies," and "is taught by prepared staff from marginalized backgrounds, especially professors of color and queer professors."

A college spokesman said Kelly and other university officials recently met with the students to offer to review the present curriculum and  said they would employ a consultant to investigate school’s climate and culture and provide racial and cultural literacy training, notes The Seattle Times.

Fiza Mohammad, a senior at the college, told The Stranger that the humanities curriculum features mostly lessons on Western canon and European classic literature that skews towards white people.

"I can count on one hand how many people of color I've read in the four years that I've been here," Mohammad told the news site.

Another complaint is the mostly-white faculty, which includes only one non-white member.

"[Many professors] do not know how to communicate about race," Mohammad stated. "They call me aggressive and emotional."

Mohammad mentioned that some students met with Kelly in private, but Kelly allegedly said she was "afraid of the oppressed becoming the oppressor." That statement has not been confirmed by Kelly.

Three white professors, who wanted did not want to be identified, told The Stranger they agree with some of the students' assertions.

According to Mohammad, the occupation will not end until Kelly resigns.

The lengthy online petition, which has acquired nearly 850 supporters, states in part:

Dissatisfaction, traumatization, and boredom are realities within our collective MRC experiences, as well as being ridiculed, traumatized, othered, tokenized, and pathologized...

...For students to have their personal and ancestral voices erased in curriculum and conversation, only to be told that their experiences of pain are insignificant, is psychologically abusive...

...Our concerns regarding racism, sexism, homophobia, and other manifestations of oppression are not individualized--they are systematically upheld by the college.

Sources: The Seattle Times, iPetitions, The Stranger / Photo credit: Khama Sawant/Twitter

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