HC STRIKE FAQs
In this document you will find answers to FAQs. Many of the questions were developed after compiling anonymously submitted questions and many of these questions were taken right from the submissions. This document will be updated regularly. A section relevant to faculty and classes will be included on November 2nd.
Email any questions/comments/concerns to email@example.com
Table of Contents:
Please refer to the Timeline of BSFRI initiatives + President Raymond’s Response for the reasons behind the strike and the past actions the students have taken to communicate the need for structural changes that have not taken place. Some faculty have communicated their support, but our ask is not just for the faculty but also for the institution.
We are aware that not every demand can be implemented immediately and in the short term. That’s why we’re asking for concrete commitment to meet our demands through clear budget allocations to the structural changes and clear timelines that can hold everyone accountable. We believe this planning-short term and long term-can planning can be completed during the duration of the strike.
You are right, we are in a time of a lot of social unrest and a lot of pain. But you have to ask yourself, who feels the burden of the social unrest? We also have to recognize that police brutality and systemic racism did not just start when people had access to the media or in 2020. It is important to address these issues now because the harm being done to BIPOC students cannot continue. This is continuation of past grievances and demands to make institutional change. Nothing new. It does fall on a time where the United States is struggling and many (not all) white and privileged people are starting to get a glimpse of the ugliness that the country is founded on. That said, you can’t wait for “calm times” to demand social change because Black and brown and indigenous communities have never gotten a moment of calm through the current structures and institutions. Please refer to the above question for our realistic expectations.
You can learn more about each of the organizations on their instagram pages. The Black women are also listed at the bottom of the Open Letter to the Bi-College Community.
We urge everyone to re-read “What Does Striking Mean.” We want to reiterate that this is not a vacation; this is not a time to throw your critical brains out the window. We actually need your critical brain more than ever. You’ve probably had the thought sometime along your academic career that you don’t have time to do things you really want or things that are important. Right now, what’s important is meeting those list of demands. Within this striking period, you have to actively support those demands and uplift the work of organizers by reaching out to faculty, reminding students and your circles why this is important–again, not a vacation. The longer we strike, the more pressure administration feels to swiftly meet our demands.
There’s also worry that remote/off campus students don’t have a feasible way of supporting the strike. Honestly the same things that on campus students are doing can be done by off campus students: emailing professors, forming awareness groups to have critical discussions about what is happening. Please do not rely on just the organizers to do something. Take the initiative. Use your brain and get creative
We plan to reach out to other colleges to extend their support too. To support our strike, we are not asking you to go on strike (especially if you are not a bi-co student, but come from another college); that is up to you and the demands of your students and failures of your college. The ways you can show up for us is to know what’s happening, support us through social engagement, have conversations with students and professors on your campus, create your own mutual aid networks. The bico mutual aid fund has received an overwhelming amount of support and is no longer requesting funds. Instead of donating to this mutual aid network, please consider donating to the local mutual aid networks listed at the end of this response.
Understandably, this is a tough situation to be in, especially if you’re the only Haverford student in the class (whether it’s at Swat or Bryn Mawr). In this case, it is more important than ever for non-Haverford students, specifically, to be the ones to advocate for the strike on your behalf. The onus should not be on you to commit to the strike, but for the Swarthmore students and Bryn Mawr students to be aware of what's happening at Haverford and knowing that what happens on campus is a symptom of what's happening outside. For non-Haverford students who want to support, these situations and dynamics is where your help is most necessary.
Local Mutual Aid Networks:
Firstly, the strike is not “just a Haverford thing.” What’s happening on campus to BIPOC students is a symptom of what’s happening outside of campus. While we try to share all of the important emails, especially in terms of what we’re responding to (Wendy’s first email, follow up email, and post letter email) we are still on day four of the strike (as of today’s date, November 1, 2020).
Please refer to this Timeline of BSFRI initiatives + President Raymond’s Response and the HC Strike Updates document for historical contextualization of this strike and the greater movement it supports.
Equating those experiencing mental health crises with active shooters is incredibly ableist and by your logic of sweeping generalization regarding who could be a school shooter, it is just as legitimate to call campus safety everytime you see a white man as it is to call campus safety everytime you see someone experiencing a crisis. Anyone (including but by no means limited to those who are Disabled, mentally ill, neurodivergent, or Mad) can harm others and it has much more to do with power structures than individual pathologies/diagnosis (which contrary to popular belief are not objective but rooted in white supremacy, capitalism, transphobia, etc.). Your mobilization of the very legitimate fear of armed men who inflict racial violence to actually bolster the presence of police officers (armed men who inflict racial violence) on campus exposes a revealing hypocrisy. Time and time again it has been proven that cops don’t prevent mass shootings and have even run away when shootings do happen. Even if campus safety could prevent a mass shooting in no way does this outweigh the brutal, daily violence inherent and enacted by their presence. What violence is deemed sufficiently legitimate? Police violence vs. what is labeled a school shooting is determined by the racial makeup of those harmed. It would be primarily Black Disabled folks impacted by the presence of untrained police officers as “solutions” during mental health crises as shown by the murder of Walter Wallace Jr, Deborah Danner, Saheed Vassell, and the incarceration of Saraya Rees and countless others. They are “the reasoning here”. It is liberating to imagine a future where we care for each other more than false notions of security that are rooted in private property and ableism. If someone is experiencing a crisis and you feel you have to call someone, call their friends and community members who know them best, as a very last resort you can even call the emergency member of CAPS (which after these demands have been met will not be white and queerphobic or eager to call the police as they have been in the past). Above-all prioritize and respect the self-determination of those of us with mental illness.
As Angela Davis teaches us, abolition does not have to mean eliminating a law it can also mean rendering it obsolete. Though Haverford should work tirelessly against laws that endanger its most vulnerable students (especially since Pennsylvania has such all-encompassing criteria for child abuse and mandated reporters), Haverford should also mainstream commonly practiced safety measures and loopholes regarding mandated reporting. This would include specific and extensive training for all mandated reporters on what mandatory reporting entails (to reduce overreporting), and similar transparency with students regarding which of their traumas could be subjected to mandatory reporting. Students should also be clearly informed that they can speak about instances subject to mandatory reporting using hypotheticals to avoid being reported against their consent. There are countless other measures Haverford can take that circumvent repressive legal requirements that blame the victim and these are just a few- feel free to suggest others.
Yes, due to the Bi-Co’s close functioning, we are demanding that Bi-Co classes be boycotted as part of strike protocol.
We urge all faculty at the Bi-Co to strike alongside students to assert pressure on the administration. There is power in collective action, and that is what we are asking of you in order to mobilize long passive administration.
We understand this concern. While we are strongly urging our peers and allies to stand in support of the strike, the final decision is up to each individual. If they make the decision to not attend class, that is their prerogative. If they feel that this isn’t the best approach to achieving our goals, then they may bring that up to the organizers or choose to not strike.
Since the Bi-Co functions so cohesively, we are asking that all BMC classes also be boycotted by Haverford students against the strike. We have also received news of a similar collective being started at Bryn Mawr, which may speak to BMC classes more specifically.
We understand and empathize with your struggle. We do not believe that cancelling class is counterproductive to the strike since the purpose of the strike is to disrupt all institutional function at Haverford until BIPOC demands are met. We understand that this might be self-detrimental, but for the larger systemic cause, we are willing to make that sacrifice. In support of the strike, we urge you to cancel class and apply pressure on the administration until our demands are met. The sooner the administration gives us a workable solution, the sooner the strike will end and students/faculty will be able to return to normal.
We urge you to cooperate with the Haverford students taking your classes and understand that as part of a larger movement, engaging in Tri-Co academic work takes away from our momentum.
Engaging with Swarthmore administration and asking to release a statement of support for Haverford’s strike is one potential way of engagement. Additionally, institutional racism at predominantly white and elite liberal arts colleges isn’t limited to Haverford. Engaging with and pressuring administrators at large in the Tri-Co to meet BIPOC demands is a solid way to continue supporting us through and beyond the strike.
To reiterate our points before, the purpose of this strike is institutional disruption: to bring the academic institution of Haverford to a complete halt. Institutional change requires sacrifice and we are willing to make it. We must all (students AND faculty) stand in unison to pressure administration to take the right steps. A proper and tangible response is the only resolution to this strike.
In a nutshell: we agree with you. Centuries of institutional racism cannot be overturned in twenty days. However, an institutional commitment can be made through resource allotment, budgeting, and clear timelines. Which is exactly what we are demanding as strikers.
Yes, this divergence in defining the expectations for the strike was due to a mis-understanding of the demands of the strike. The BSG released their statement to the Biology community prior to the organizers’ release of their official demands. This explains the incorrect framing of the strike in the BSG’s first correspondence on October 29th.
Although students should not be doing homework during the strike, students can learn for their own benefit via MCAT and GRE prep. We’ve covered questions similar to this in more detail above.
Do not. Because completing homework and/or submitting it for credit would contribute to the overall function of the college, this act would not be in alignment with the goals of the strike. Instead, please consider using the time and energy you would have normally committed to classes to dive into educational materials over striking, anti-Black racism, racism, and most importantly critical Black feminists theory. Additionally, use this time and space to educate those around you (e.g. friends and family).
When gauging the actions you partake in during the strike, question, “does this directly benefit the institution” if yes, don’t do it. If possible, please use any time and energy you have on furthering your own education over striking, anti-Black racism, racism, and most importantly critical Black feminists theory. Additionally, use this time and space to educate those around you (e.g. friends and family).
BIPOC students are not using this strike as a vacation, many are organizing, providing resources, and protesting.
BIPOC students are currently in a fight for our lives with the police, electoral voting, ICE, and the Haverford administration. As of right now BIPOC and FGLI students are getting a much more difficult college experience resulting in higher instances of taking leave or dropping out. Without the demands of the strike, learning for BIPOC/FGLI will already be curtailed.
Once the demands have been met. Administration and Wendy outline exactly how they will fulfill each demand with tangible timelines. Meetings must be transparent, therefore recorded(visually/via notes) and open to all of the community members.
Yes, we need everyone to participate in the strike and put their own individual needs aside for the collective good.
BIPOC students are frequently called upon in classes to do emotional labor (i.e. explaining how something is racist, forcing themselves to talk about their trauma academically). If BIPOC students attended classes it would count as labor for the institution, but they cannot strike classes if they do not have the full support of their peers. BIPOC students would be more vulnerable to retribution or being ignored if the majority do not strike class.
It is only self-destructive if you always prioritize self-success over a functional community. If any member of the community is left behind then the community fails. BIPOC students are being left behind by our current practices.
Although this is a strike that began at Haverford College in direct response to Wendy’s and Joyce’s email on Wednesday night, this strike is also in response to the institution’s historical acts of social and racial injustice. In the recognition that these injustices are not unique to Haverford College, we encourage Bryn Mawr students and professors to participate and fully commit themselves to the cause of the strike. Since Bryn Mawr and Haverford are so closely connected, the necessary measure to take is for the Bryn Mawr faculty to support the strike by honoring striking students at both colleges, first and foremost, by not penalizing striking students for not going to class or finishing assignments (Demand IX). We hope that you see the bigger picture, such that (once again), these injustices are not unique to the bi-co institutions. We need change all over national campuses, and we hope (or dream) that many colleges across the board strike and voice their specific demands against their college or university. We encourage these conversations to be happening nationally, and the bi-co (and tri-co) are good places to start. The unfortunate reality is that these conversations and uplifting the work of BIPOC students haven’t been had enough which is why we’re currently at this moment.
We are in contact with organizers at Bryn Mawr who want to demonstrate their solidarity as well as enact social justice on their campus. Like we said before, these injustices are not unique to Haverford College. You can reach them at firstname.lastname@example.org and they are known as the Bryn Mawr Strike Collective. They have released their statement, demands, and letter of solidarity; you can find that here. Whether you are a new or old faculty member, we encourage you to take the initiative amongst your departments and colleagues to have conversations about the strike and release a departmental statement that shows support for student organizing efforts. In doing so, you will win the trust of many students who often feel like they are doing this work alone; however, we need faculty support to ensure that change will happen.
Our website is hc-strike.com; please email us with any ideas to put this website to good use (especially if you were in attendance at the BMC student faculty meeting with Haverford organizers). Follow us on Instagram and Twitter. Since these are public accounts, you don’t need to have an instagram or twitter account since these are viewable on any web browser.
We understand that the college administration may have the most diverse assemblage in centuries. However, to repeat the oft repeated “All my skinfolk ain’t kinfolk” and so having two Black women in upper administration is only beneficial to BIPOC students if their demands are seriously considered. If BIPOC administration members continue to treat student demands as their predominantly white predecessors, then their presence does not make any difference.
We have been open to working with the administration since the very beginning. BSRFI’s Open Letter was sent out in June and the organizers continuously engaged with President Raymond. However, demands have been responded to in vague terms instead of the provision of definitive budgeting and timelines. We remain open to the possibility of working with administration, but they must step up and give us articulate and clear responses with:
Finally, to your point of a strike being launched now: this strike has been generations in the making. In 1972, BIPOC students at Haverford launched a similar boycott asking for institutional accountability and grassroots change. In the past three years, several student movements have pushed for similar action:
These movements have been gathering traction for several years. They have all culminated in this BIPOC strike; this isn’t a standalone moment.
BSRFI’s Open Letter that was sent in June, has merely been used as President Raymond’s platform for anti-racism at Haverford, but there has been no concrete plans nor actions to achieve the demands stated in the Open Letter. Given the institution’s reluctance to commit to the demands from the Open Letter, we as BIPOC students needed to hold Haverford accountable for its promise to anti-racist and diversity, equity, and inclusion work. The strike has therefore been a result of Haverford’s unkept promises.
As of now, no financial strike methods have been considered. If the administration fails to respond in an orderly and articulate manner to our demands, the organizers of the strike might consider such a notion.
The communication from President Raymond and Dean Bylander thus far indicates willingness to work with us, however, we as students cannot gauge the pressure they are feeling due to the academic boycott.
There are several forms and degrees that racist action takes in the classroom that are not often explicit. These include: calling on students to answer specific questions by assuming their background/asking them to educate the class with their experiences in a way that demands undue and avoidable labor of them; not being receptive to requests for extensions or accommodations when you are unable to anticipate the circumstances that push a BIPOC student to that point; etc.
There is also a more structural problem with most faculty of colour holding contingent/precarious positions within departments and that is a different conversation altogether. Institutional measures must be taken to CREATE spaces for diverse perspectives within departments and for their specializations; which often is hard to do due to the ‘pipeline’ that exists with senior faculty exercising pressure to create further representation for their (canonical, elitist, and hence detracting from anti-racist) fields of study. This is a problem that there needs to be more conversation about at the departmental level and necessitates, among other things, the complete reevaluation of tenure and promotion requirements, demands, and evaluations.
As far as what is asked of faculty regarding the strike, refer to these points:
The concerns that white faculty have addressed have come from a place of voicing the disconnect between Dean Bylander and students. It is agreed that white faculty should not be lecturing Black folks about race and racism, but there is a time and place for faculty, regardless of race, to express concern about the disheartening and harmful email that was sent by both Dean Bylander and President Raymond.
We welcome all suggestions for readings, recorded lectures, or the work of other activists. We encourage you to send these resources to your students as non-required readings. We are also trying to provide free copies of the recent book and lectures from Fred Moten, an activist and professor at NYU.
While this is an important question to ask, I think it can be just as important to flip the question around and ask how long we can reasonably expect students of color on this campus to tolerate an administration that has so much power over our daily lives while being so completely disconnected from them. So many of the questions expressing fears that the strike will go on for a long time are valid, we as students have the same fears too, but that is why more than anything we want the administration to respond swiftly and decisively towards meeting our demands.
As we said in our demands, while for some students classes can be a motivating factor for dealing with the pandemic, for many students of color it is a source of stress and feelings of inadequacy. We understand that students and faculty process these times in different ways, so a way that faculty can support the strike is holding optional class times when class would normally meet to discuss the strike and its demands, learn about the history of police violence, discuss the racism that exists in higher education, etc.
This concern was addressed in the “URGENT: Support from STEM Affiliated Faculty” email in which the BIPOC STEM organizers responded: Taking the position that closing labs will harm BIPOC, women, and underrepresented students in STEM undermines the meaning and purpose of the strike. In any and all strikes, BIPOC people will always be those most vulnerable to harm, as marginalized communities will always be more vulnerable. However, BIPOC students organized this strike nonetheless, aware of the sacrifice it would entail, knowing its goal was reparations that would change the harmful conditions that exist and restore some of the harm done by Haverford. Keeping labs open will not alleviate the harm that BIPOC students are facing [globally] and at the hands of the institution currently. Keeping labs open will only benefit white and/or the most privileged POC students not participating in the strike, further disadvantaging the larger BIPOC community and those committed to striking for institutional change. You must get a hold of the larger narrative at play. Closing labs does not mean killing live cultures, it just means closing labs for all student work. At this time, scientific research must halt in order to show support for BIPOC students. We cannot reiterate enough your status as community leaders, influencers, and educators makes your solidarity all the more important, as your support is crucial to educate our white/privileged peers and those who are not striking
There is no change without sacrifice. I’m not saying that students should forgo their long term plans at all, but rather understand that other things like thesis and applications may be made more complicated and more difficult by a choice to demand equitable treatment by the administration for BIPOC students. I’m not going to lie and say that there’s a way to make the spring easier and support this strike, because it’s not true. When this is over, we will have to work harder to potentially catch up on things we missed during this period, but that being said, we are asking through this strike that fundamental institutional change is made a priority. Additionally, anything that doesn’t actively support the college is not considered breaking the picket line. If students want to study for the MCAT/GRE, write personal statements, research graduate schools, etc. all of those things are fine. And these pending deadlines are all the more reason to put pressure on the administration to meet these demands. I’ll also put out there that although the strike could go on for quite some time, so far, we have missed two days of classes, which will become three even by wednesday morning because tuesday is election day.
Students often use colloquial language like “problematic” as a general term for those professors who, either by small or large groups of students, are considered racist, sexist, homophobic, classist, elitist, etc. Just being honest. Professors routinely are allowed to get away with exhibiting harmful action towards students because there is no direct and formal process for holding professors accountable for their actions as community members. Additionally, students are often afraid of negative consequences for confronting professors or speaking to someone about their behavior because of power dynamics and threat of a lowered grade. We want there to be a way, other than course evaluations or Ombuds, for students to be able to address and confront professors who are harmful to them without fear of repercussions. We want a structure to be put in place, composed by a potential/hypothetical group, to be able to hold professors who have routinely and continuously been offensive to students to be held accountable, and for the admin to take our reports of such incidents seriously.
As with several historical strikes, we have gained power by halting several of the school’s functions. It requires the administration to respond swiftly or be damaged further. Threatening an impending strike may also garner the same amount of attention, but it runs the risk of losing student momentum as well as the urgency required. A continuous strike does not afford the administration the ability to table the issue or delay concrete responses. We ask you to remember that the strike requires sacrifice that several BIPOC and FGLI students have consented to making. What is harmful to us are the practices we are trying to rectify with the demands. These demands were not out of the blue but brought to the administration several times throughout the last couple of years. BIPOC and FGLI students do not have an equal experience in college as their affluent or white counterparts. This damage is lasting and follows us into a professional setting. Us taking calculated and consented to damage now is to ensure that the rest of our time and those who come after us will not experience continual damage throughout their time at Haverford.
If the student wishes to study for the benefit of themselves, it is not crossing the picket line. A lot of students are worried about retention and we have clarified that studying for their own benefit is actually a good use of their time if they are also committed to the other areas of the strike. We are currently working with several professors, outside activist, and other universities on getting resources about how race, gender, and strikes relate to the students specific field.
As we’ve stated earlier, students should be taking this time to practice self-studying habits outside of classroom environments. Studying for the MCAT, LSAT, or GRE is a productive use of this time especially for BIPOC, and more importantly, students can use this time to learn about what it means to be anti-racist. As part of our demands, we are requesting that the college provide academic leniency for students not just in the aftermath of the strike, but in recognizing that this pandemic has exposed the ways in which the barriers of success in higher education hurt FGLI students and students of color more than anyone else.
We’ve tried other options. BSRFI made an open-letter that they sent forward to Haverford Administration after accumulating thousands of signatures, and their feedback still has not been acted on by admin. So many people were up in arms when reading that letter, yet when you look at what has changed since then, the answer is essentially nothing. The strike is intended to force the administration's hand. We don’t want it to go on forever, what we want is for things to change.
This person sent a link to a message from the Bah’ai reference library, under the section the Universal House of Justice. Since other people haven’t read this document, I’m not quite sure how or why this will be applicable to a wider audience. But I’ll do my best to address the concern anyway: this document was written July 22nd 2020, and from my understanding, guides those of Bah’ai faith as to how they might engage with and think about all of the responses to racial violence that happened this summer spiritually or otherwise. The document condemns racism and encourages deep reflective thought about what movements one might want to participate in to bring about racial justice, and openly speaks against conflict. I, nor anyone else here, can provide personal guidance as to how an individual reconciles their religious beliefs with what we’re doing. That being said, the best I can do is to encourage those who feel uncomfortable with the conflict we’re creating to ask themselves when those being oppressed have ever become liberated without conflict, and moreover, to consider why we are being charged the perpetrators of “conflict” when racism is by definition a violent construct. I can only provide this link to a video of revolutionary Angela Davis on the narrative construction of “violence”, and what kinds of questions you ask when you’re truly dedicated to liberation, at any means necessary: https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=164983358268888
As a member of the quaker faith, I myself had to ask how protesting squared with the pacifist teachings. Complete tolerance calls for not tolerating the intolerant. Being a bystander to violence is allowing that violence to happen. The community is not at peace if members are being marginalized, aggressed, and devalued. We must strive towards positive peace in our institutions even if that means confronting those who are perpetuating intentionally or unintentionally white supremacy, classism, homophobia, and broad violence.
An important part of what we are trying to do by stopping academics is making the point clear that learning about racism isn’t all that needs to be done, we have to be actively working to stamp out all of the racism within our institution. As faculty, we understand that it is your job to teach, and you can play an important role in educating students, but it is just important that you reach out to educate administrators and encourage actual change. Haverford is an institution that hoards an incredible amount of wealth and influence that could be put to incredible use both for BIPOC within the college and in the community surrounding us. When asking if a guest lecture or class session supports the strike, don’t just ask yourself if it is focused on anti-racism or anti-Blackness, but if it is materially working towards changing the institutions at Haverford that are so resistant to actually acting on the things we teach.
“A refusal to work organized by a body of employees as a form of protest, typically in an attempt to gain a concession or concessions from their employer” (Oxford languages).
In this case, a strike was organized by a group of Black, Indigenous, and of color students in response to the continued racism and anti-Blackness perpetrated by Haverford College administration. Please see this google drive of resources, released to all Haverford students, faculty, and staff, for more on what this strike means for us, and why we’re doing it. Please start with “What Does Striking Mean?” and “Strike Updates” if you haven’t already as was asked in the before you read.
When students, faculty, and administration reach a mutual agreement on how to move forward with student demands. Students have conceded to existing college mechanisms of “consensus” in the past and have still not seen equitable, productive change.
The students organizing the strike are specifically looking for a definite, concrete timeline and plan of action detailing how the administration plans to meet the demands. President Raymond has publicly responded to the demands, and student organizers responded, informing her and the student body that her response leaves most demands unmet. Her blanket statements are not enough, and hence the strike continues. Student organizers have indicated how, when, and on what terms they intend to be in communication with administration moving forward.
Multiple student organizations and individuals (most recently BSRFI, ALAS, SALT) have done all of those things for years and decades (link to a drive of documents concerning the 1972 Haverford Boycott led by BSL) without any or enough change. A strike is a tool of last resort after communication breaks down between two groups of differential power.
Over the summer during the protests, President Raymond and the college made several statements promising a different Haverford with anti-racism at the core of its decision making. This recent statement was a betrayal of those promises.
Moreover, change does not come without sacrifice. Like your child, the student organizers are also students with parents who care about their education and professional development. These sacrifices are to make Haverford a less violent institution both for students and those in the surrounding area.
The strike is for support of BIPOC and FGLI students. Here is the link to their demands , as previously linked in the before you read.
The point of the strike is not to benefit the college, but to bring demands that have been neglected for years into fruition.
A strike requires social pressure. When people cross a picket line, they are criticized because it means they are supporting the current norm at Haverford that consistently harms BIPOC and FGLI students. There cannot be grey areas in supporting the right to have equal access to an education.
When your child is saying they are being bullied, what is being said? Having an emotional reaction to being pressured is common, especially under high stress.
Emotions are high for many Haverford students right now. The academic rigor that normally pushes student stress levels in a normal year has continued despite the ongoing pandemic and political moment
Your child may be jumping to the conclusion that they are receiving hate, when what they are actually hearing is frustration and anger from students who have faced disproportionate barriers to success because of their race and color at Haverford.
You want your child to succeed in school, and so we hope you also wish BIPOC students and FGLI students to succeed. This strike is about standing in solidarity.
BIPOC students consistently experience bullying and harm both from other students and the administration because of systemic racism. If you feel the urge to discredit this, please read the responses to the BlackatHaverford instagram page. This strike is to significantly reduce harm, not coddle uncomfortable feelings.
Students are striking not only from classes but also from campus jobs. If you send your child money or they have access to your credit card, this means they have access to funds for food and other basic needs, but not all students do.
Earlier in the strike there was an effort to provide funds to an on campus mutual aid network which works to collect funds from those with disposable income and provide funds and other resources to students who do not have the same means as these more wealthy students. However, now due to an amazing influx of funds, that mutual aid fund has met its goals and people are instead being pushed to donate to local Philadelphia protest, bail, and mutual aid funds.
Here’s a link to an article about what Mutual Aid is and how it’s different from what you may call charity or giving.
Finally, your voice can have a huge impact. Emailing President Raymond email@example.com, Vice President and Chief of Staff firstname.lastname@example.org, and email@example.com to express your support for the strike, meeting the demands of BIPOC and FGLI the forgiveness of grading for assignments missed during the strike would go a long way.
Every academic department has supported the strike efforts. Professors and other faculty, in some cases, are supporting students directly in this cause. You can find faculty letters of support here.
If your student is still worried about communicating their participation in the strike to professors and campus job supervisors, here is a form email that strike organizers have provided.
The Spring 2020 semester demonstrated that the college will reconfigure academic requirements for students during moments of crisis. Students will collaborate with faculty and Dean’s offices to ensure an equitable reconfiguration of academic expectations.
Please see question 5 before continuing.
At first, the organizers were concerned that while student workers at the DC were striking, adult staff would be unfairly overwhelmed with student demand. Therefore, they were encouraging students not to go to the Dining Center unless absolutely necessary. Since their initial fear has not been the case, students have released several statements and updates stating that it is not crossing the picket line to go to the DC, and that students should not be made to feel bad for it.
There have also been numerous efforts of support from community houses providing free meals to students, as well as the continued operation of The Nest, a free pantry for low-income and FGLI students.
Your child does have access to food.
The BiCo Mutual Aid Fund models itself off of many other mutual aid funds set up around the country. They have a public google sheet documenting their fund intake and dispersal that’s updated frequently.
The Fund’s priority is helping students in the strike who rely on campus wages.
Seeing this as shaming misses the point that BSRFI is making about Haverford. The college has extreme wealth disparity amongst students. There are 26 students who come from billionaire households. 180 students that come from households that make over $630,000.
This bingo sheet is about taking stock of financial privilege and acting to redistribute funds to students who do not have the same privilege. Haverford being an intentional community should mean everyone takes care of one another rather than being silent about wealth.
And it works. Through this type of organizing, students have been able to raise over $80,000 dollars in two days. Imagine if Haverford had used more of its funds collected from alumni to eliminate need amongst its student body.
BiCo Mutual Aid has raised so much money that they are now asking supporters to donate to local Philadelphia Aid efforts instead.
Taking the position that the strike is unsafe because of the pandemic does not take into account the in-person/virtual components of the strike and the risks associated with in person protest.
Please see this article demonstrating that national BLM protests did not result in spikes for Covid-19.
Students were NOT pressured into protesting on Wednesday. The protest was live streamed on zoom and on Instagram for students who were off-campus or did not feel comfortable joining in-person. If your child chose to engage in the protest, that was entirely their choice.
The strike does not increase contact between those living at Haverford, or between students and individuals in the surrounding area.
Per Dean Bylander, Haverford College has publicly stated that they have the resources to level up testing in the event of higher-risk activities among students.
Refusing to join the strike, or not adhering to the requests of the most vulnerable and historically marginalized members of the Haverford community, is a reflection of their privilege, power, and lack of social consciousness. Their ignorance is likely not of malicious intent; however, the act of actively ignoring these issues when explanations of why these issues should matter to everyone is so readily and widely accessible, is malicious and VERY harmful. If you consider yourself to be in community with these folks (i.e. perhaps you share an identity with them, they’re your family or friends, etc), please invest the necessary time and energy into their learning and unlearning processes. Education can take a long time and the most difficult part is knowing where to start.
It’s important to recognize that there’s nothing political about supporting BIPOC students in their fight against systemic and institutional forms of oppression. There are no gray areas, you either support the liberation of Black people and Indigenous people, or POC, or you do not.
At this point, the movement needs EVERYONE on board, so share those resources with them, commit to conversing with them and even learning alongside them. It’s important to note that your time and energy is not infinite and this kind of work is oftentimes very emotionally laborious. Move accordingly and reach out to other like-minded community members for support. DO NOT RELY ON BIPOC FOLKS TO DO THIS WORK. Remember that a part of what we’re striking is the institution’s continuous exploitation of BIPOC labor. If you continue to rely on BIPOC students, you are only reproducing the exploitative logic of the institution. It’s okay and necessary to take the initiative, especially in your non-BIPOC circles; the resources, answers, explanations, are out there so do the work of researching and sharing those instead.
Student to Student:
Unfriending someone who does not support, disagrees with, and is not open to learning about the struggle of BIPOC and this movement is perfectly acceptable. Invest the time and energy into the education of those you consider yourself to be in community with, but be conscious of the emotional commitment this work requires and do what’s necessary for your own mental and emotional well being.
Student to Faculty:
Speaking truth to power can be very difficult, especially when acting your own. If you’re willing and able to, engage in conversation with them over how their reluctance to commit perpetuates the same anti-Black sentiment as the original statement made by President Raymond and Dean Bylander. If you don’t have the time and energy to converse over the highly problematic nature of their reluctance to prioritize the needs and demands of BIPOC students, then consider mobilizing alongside other students in the course, consider reaching out to other professors in their department who are pro-strike, or reach out to someone from the HC Strike organizing team so they can support you or point you to someone who can.
Faculty to Student:
If you find yourself in a situation in which a student does not support the strike, please leverage the power in your position as a professor to do just what you were meant to do; educate. This isn’t an issue affecting only certain disciplines or academic areas. Regardless of the discipline, students of whatever academic interests will play important roles in the communities and institutions they’ll engage with post-strike and after graduating. It’s important that everyone remain committed to the liberation of BIPOC people even outside of the Haverford Community and without this commitment these students, often out of ignorance, will only continue to perpetuate and propagate the same colonial, white supremacist, oppressive systems that have wrecked havoc on the BIPOC community for so long. Everyone has a part to play in the liberation of BIPOC, and more specifically the Black Lives Matter movement. The commitment to this liberation, or at the very least starting to learn about it, is more important than grades and even a college degree.
Parent to Parent:
As parents with children who are attending Haverford you’ve put your trust into the Haverford community to nurture, educate, and ultimately help your child grow. These processes, the same ones that drive a student’s commitment to bettering the world around them upon graduating, cannot occur if Haverford as an institution does not commit to protecting and uplifting the voices and experiences of Black, Indigenous, folks of color on campus. It is only through conscious and consistent introspection over the hegemonic systems that the college has in place, that these processes will cultivate a true commitment to the liberation of all oppressed and marginalized peoples. As it stands, the environment and processes of the college subjugate and create unsafe spaces for BIPOC students which undoubtedly get perpetuated and reproduced by students in the various communities and institutions that students engage with after graduating. This movement has everything to do with ensuring that students, your children, not only remain critical of the same systems and institutions that will continue to support them at the expense of others but also work towards actively disrupting and dismantling these very systems.
Student to Parent:
It can be very difficult to engage in conversations relevant to this movement and the even greater Black Lives Matter movement with parents. First, it’s important to recognize that parents often only want what’s best for their children and can be very worried for their child's well-being, especially when they’re traversing unprecedented circumstances. It’s important to affirm these emotional concerns; however, you can do both this AND facilitate conversation rich in education on the topics relevant to the strike and the foundational issues that have driven the creation of this movement and movements like it. Reach out to another family member for support, research tools to help you facilitate these conversations, and do so while affirming their learning and unlearning journeys. They might not be students and actively participating in this strike but the liberation of BIPOC is something that SHOULD and DOES concern them too. Their support of the strike and pressuring of the college is essential to this movement.
As stated above, there is nothing political about this movement. You either support the liberation of Black people and other POC or you don’t. Restorative processes exist only for those who are willing to listen and learn and especially for those who have invested time and energy into their own education over the issues of BIPOC both on and off campus. There’s nothing trivial about this. There are no gray areas.
The movement will continue without your support. Know that your reluctance to participate perpetuates, reproduces, and propagates the same colonial and white supremacsit systems that advantage certain groups of people over others. Just because issues of BIPOC don’t affect you or affect you to a different degree, doesn’t mean that there isn’t someone out there who is severely affected by these oppressive systems and institutions than you are. By centering the voices and concerns of the most vulnerable in our communities, we liberate everyone.
“Nobody’s free until everybody’s free.” ~ Fannie Lou Hamer
The strike is not at odds with learning, it is at odds with actions that benefit this institution, an institution which as we have repeatedly said, actively impedes and makes impossible learning for BIPOC and FGLI students, and work actively destructive for BIPOC faculty and staff. This institution has directly profited off of the uncompensated labor of BIPOC students since Haverford started admitting them around 50 years ago. There is plenty of learning that students can take up during this time, involving but not limited to: learning about systemic racism at Haverford, in Philadelphia, in this country and beyond; learning about the history of Haverford College gentrifying/committing acts of violence against the surrounding Black community, understanding the history and purpose of strikes. Further, students are encouraged to prep for tests such as the GRE, LSAT, MCAT, as well as work on job/internship applications/grad school applications. Further, please do not attenuate this strike by insisting that students will not be able to “learn,” as learning takes place outside of and in spite of colonial institutions such as academia. Let us repeat: no one is physically in danger by remaining on this campus, and implying this simply rehearses racist associations of brownness and blackness with animality and violence. Furthermore, if as a faculty member you wish to support the strike you should begin by cancelling class and pressuring your department chair and other colleagues to release a statement, as can be seen here.
The choice to participate in this strike is afforded to each individual. Systemic racism, alternatively, does not gather consent from the victims it claims, day in and day out, Therefore, if you or someone you know benefits in unspeakable ways from the systemic racism in this country that crushes so many others, we do implore you to join us to make yourself uncomfortable in a way that you have never been forced to, nor will ever be forced to. We want to learn in an environment that supports us, and after decades of trying other things, striking is all we have left to make the institution acknowledge and reckon with our experiences.
That is certainly true. It’s first important to highlight that these are exceptions; the organizers have been hosting Q&A’s, town halls, and more, truly trying to show people quite how vital this action is--violence has never been physical, and indeed effectively nonexistent. Efforts have been made entirely through persuasion. It is also worth asking for some empathy: many people are risking a lot to carry out this strike, and are likely to receive heavy repercussions for their roles; in crossing the picket line, you are actively asserting your indifference to the horrible conditions that motivated them to strike in the first place, and indeed placing them in even greater danger. Haverford students are adults: if their actions, in this instance crossing the picket line, lead them to be socially ostracized then that is their responsibility and they are always welcome to reevaluate their behavior; we will not physically or psychologically attack anyone for their views, and if an adult--here, a Haverford student--chooses to espouse views that alienate them from the broad majority of their community, they are entirely responsible for those consequences and this is not a violation of their free speech rights. I would like to quote an instagram post by @alyssahowritings, entitled, “What To Do & Not To Do When Being Called Out/In For Racism Or Cultural Appropriation,” quoting Dr. Zuleyka Zevallos, a doctor of sociology “There is no ‘nice’ way to talk about racism,” and “As [BI]POC point out all day, every day, [w]hite people put more effort into policing discussion of race so they don’t have to work on themselves.” Please stop reframing this discussion to center non-BIPOC and non-FGLI students. Further, insinuating that these students are being oppressed is not only disrespectful and disgusting, it's flat out false. To address your last question, I will flip it. What actions have you taken to ensure your communication [and action towards BIPOC] community members focuses on [genuine anti-racism efforts (recognizing that these efforts are mythical in our current understanding)]?
One of the main reasons why this strike is occurring is that Haverford as an institution in its current form does not support the well-being and overall life of its BIPOC FGLI students. This strike, therefore, is a response to those conditions and a demand that they improve dramatically so that Haverford might become an equitable space where the learning we all desire can take place. To repeat, essentially the totality of BIPOC and FGLI students on campus are complying and indeed we are the active leaders of the strike; after years of pursuing different avenues, it has become clear to all of us that there is no other way to demand an adequate response from the institution. Crossing the picket line, and thus going against the strike, is to express profound indifference to the truly agonizing conditions to which BIPOC students are subjected daily at Haverford, and indeed to defend them by refusing the work being done to change them. The label of racism is simply adequate. It is also worth rethinking the impulse to be more pained by someone being accused of racism than by racism itself--the consequences of that accusation are nothing compared to the violence that racism daily visits upon BIPOC students on campus.
Quoted from the Strike FAQ document: “The bico mutual aid fund has received an overwhelming amount of support and is no longer requesting funds. Instead of donating to this mutual aid network, please consider donating to the local mutual aid networks listed at the end of this response.”
We are working with a group of professors to organize and offer various teach-ins planned and moderated by both the students and the faculty. The hope is to change conventional modes of learning and offer spaces where the transformative goals and values of the strike can be realized through shared educational practices that equalize students, faculty and staff. Interested students can sign up here to help.
Initially there were concerns that DC staff would be overwhelmed without the help of student workers if students continued to eat regularly at the DC, but after conversations with DC management it has become clear that this is not the case. Students are encouraged to use food networks outside the DC if they are able, especially if they live in the apartments, but it is not crossing the picket line to use the DC. Food sources to consider include the Nest, the Burrow Cafe, or local Black-owned restaurants.
We are seeking outside publicity so if you have any media connection, please send them our email: firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ve had a few people from local media reach out to us and we’re in the process of talking with them. We initially were waiting for President Wendy’s response to our demands before we seeked out outside media. We know public image is important to Haverford but we wanted to see what response we were working with before amplifying the strike more.
Because the purpose of the strike is to halt all activities that uphold Haverford as an institution, yes, part of striking means choosing not to participate in college-sponsored panels and workshops. That being said, it is not crossing the picket line to work on personal and professional development and students are encouraged to continue to do such work independently of Haverford-sponsored events. Any individual advisement between faculty and student is not a violation of the strike as it only benefits the individual student, not the institution.