Willamette Student Academy Supporter Letter
To Whom it May Concern,
This message is meant to inform you on the current state of student discontent regarding several recent changes that Willamette University administrators have made to our community. Over the past two years, Willamette has closed the School of Education, phased out the American Ethnic Studies major, moved the center for Equity and Empowerment against the wishes of students who created it, and is now dismantling Willamette Academy. These changes have alienated and negatively affected various members of our community. The student body is suffering. Institutional support and commitment to creating true community for students of color has dwindled; our claims have continuously been ignored or brushed aside without concern. However, this most recent aggression is too egregious for us to accept being silenced, so we have written and signed on to this letter as a first recourse by which to respectfully ask for your help in addressing our concerns, beginning with the restoration of Willamette Academy.
Non nobis solum nati sumus--Not unto ourselves alone are we born. This motto has been recited frequently during our time at Willamette University. It has permeated the ways the University promotes itself - a place where students who value serving others can find a home. Service to the community is integral to the fabric and culture of Willamette University, so much so that it is continually ranked on the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll.
Given our University’s expressed commitment to the community, these changes to Willamette Academy are hypocritical. Decreasing the number of students that the Willamette Academy serves from over 225 to 40 is not an action that reflects our motto. The changes that have been announced have lacked transparency from the University. At a meeting for Willamette Academy parents, the University representatives did not adequately answer the queries of parents. The representatives ended the meeting while students and parents were still asking questions and voicing concerns. The space could not even fit all of the 225 families currently working with the Academy. The only space for student input, the Willamette Academy Task Force with one student representative, had its recommendations largely rejected and ignored. The changes that university officials are making contradict or misconstrue the Task Force's proposals. As students, we have asked the University to listen to our voices. In return, students have been ignored or met with hostility. Now we turn to you with the hope that you will value and listen to our collective voice. We urge you to be critical of the data that had been presented to you.
These actions are tearing our community apart. Students are spending extensive time and energy to grapple with and protest the dismantling of Willamette Academy. Students intended on attending a University that values building community; Willamette Academy is part of that mission. Without this, loss in student morale will only further hurt Willamette’s retention efforts. Students need community. Students need this space.
Willamette University students from different backgrounds have found a safe space at the Willamette Academy: a place where they can connect with hundreds of younger students and build nurturing relationships. We believe in the strength of this student body. We are dedicated to our University and community. Therefore we cannot stand idly by as this University makes decisions that go against a motto that is at the heart of our institution. Our students deserve better.
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