If Smith wants to commit to the safety of its BIPOC students, it needs to start listening to those students

Aysha signed ed
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This piece uses “Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour (BIPOC)” to refer to the experiences of racialized students. We acknowledge this term is not universal. 
 
With the launch of  ‘Stolen by Smith’—an Instagram page detailing incidents of intolerance experienced by Smith students and alumni—the Smith School of Business is once again subject to nationwide criticism for its treatment of BIPOC students. Yet despite Smith’s virtual town hall meeting, it’s failed to truly listen and commit to BIPOC concerns.
 
Smith held a virtual Commerce town hall where students could voice their concerns to help form equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) initiatives moving forward.
 
From a closed chat to the complete absence of opportunity for students to speak directly with Smith faculty, the event was nothing more than a way for Smith to cover itself—that is, an opportunity for them to appear open to listening to the voices of their BIPOC students without giving these students a public platform to say anything less than savory about the school. 
 
Questions often weren’t repeated word for word, but rather paraphrased when read out loud.
 
This is nothing short of censorship of BIPOC voices—voices that are necessary to informing effective EDI initiatives and voices that have historically been ignored by Smith. 
 
As a POC commerce student, I’m painfully aware that my school cares more about appearing safe than it does actually being safe—despite the fact myself and every other marginalized Commerce student pays this sorry institution upwards of $16,000 a year, and three times that for international students
 
Smith needs to hold a new town hall that gives students an opportunity to speak directly to administrators. It needs to listen to BIPOC voices even if it makes powerful people uncomfortable. 
 
They need to do this publicly, rather than trying to sweep student concerns under the rug because they aren’t polite enough. 
 
Smith: your BIPOC students are upset and have been for a long time. It’s not on them to communicate their concerns to you in a way that doesn’t hurt the egos of your administration, nor is it acceptable for you to censor their voices in any way. 
 
Even if they’re angry. Even if they’re cussing. Even if they’re asking Lori Garnier, executive director of Commerce, to resign for her failure to address the concerns of BIPOC voices the entirety of her time in the role. 
 
To be a BIPOC student at Smith is to constantly be uncomfortable in the toxic wasteland that is Goodes Hall. White students and administrators, if you truly want that to change, it’s time for you feel a fraction of that discomfort. 
 
Aysha is a third-year commerce student, and one of The Journal’s Features Editors.

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