We are writing to you as concerned alumni and parents who stand in solidarity with the student protests occurring on campus.
St. Olaf “strives to be an inclusive community, respecting those of differing backgrounds and beliefs,” and the institution has failed to create an environment that achieves this goal. The current students' rage is a collective one. Their rage is our rage, and we need to do better as a community. As leaders of our college, you need to do better.
We understand that this is complex. The composition of the student body has changed dramatically over the last two decades. At a time when many schools are divesting from communities of color and students from low-income backgrounds, St. Olaf is investing. More money than ever is committed to recruiting a racially diverse student body.
With more students of color and international students on campus, however, comes the imperative to provide for those students. It is your duty to take care of them, to take care of us.
This is not a time to be defensive. For too long, these incidents have inflicted fear within marginalized communities on campus. This is not only the work of individuals, but a reflection of a larger, systemic and cultural problem. We urge you to have the courage to engage with students beyond the cursory response needed to protect the St. Olaf brand. They deserve your undivided attention, and genuine desire to address the institutional problems being laid at your feet.
It is not a coincidence that this is the second organized protest regarding the treatment of students of color in the last five years. It is also not a coincidence that this is happening a year after The Gray Shirts. St. Olaf has problems. This is not about two students who have problems, or a couple of staff members who have problems. St. Olaf, as an institution, has problems.
It is time for all of us to face them.