Division of Student Life (DSL) Anti-Racism Statement

The Division of Student Life’s (DSL) mission is to cultivate a dynamic, engaged, and inclusive community that enriches the student experience, promotes wellness and belonging and supports the purposeful development of every student.

The Division of Student Life remains in solidarity with the rest of the Mount Holyoke College community in expressing our grief to all those impacted by the tremendous pain and horror of current and historical global anti-Black racism.

We are not only committed to addressing anti-Blackness, xenophobia, and other forms of institutional and systemic oppression but changing our practices to reflect the needs of our diverse student body. We will continue to collaborate with other departments and organizations on campus, the Five Colleges and the surrounding community to offer support and engage in necessary dialogues on race, racism, and other forms of oppression to foster a sense of belonging in all Mount Holyoke College students.

We recognize that although statements are meaningful, positive change will not exist without direct actions taken by everyone in the community. The Division of Student Life believes that each individual can make a positive contribution to improve the lives of Black and Brown and other students of color on campus, within the Five Colleges, and in the global community, and give the entire community the means to free themselves from the cycle of racist conditioning and oppression. To strive towards antiracism, social justice, and to affect change, the Division of Student Life pledges to:

  • Acknowledge our privilege and positionality in systemic, institutional racial oppression, and other forms of oppression: 

    • We not only recognize that we have a lot of growth and work to do, but know that we must take direct action and accountability to promote positive change.

    • We will work to change our internalized racism and to interrupt racism. 

    • We will challenge and correct our systemic practices, institutional legacies and unconscious biases that perpetuate white supremacy, white dominant culture, and Eurocentrism. 

  • To strive towards liberatory consciousness, we will continue to educate ourselves and our community, listen to feedback from students and staff while integrating these equitable practices and values into our work so that we can be agents of social change and transformation.

  • Establish an environment for individuals to share their perspectives and opinions that will assist in addressing actions and behaviors that are the manifestations of individual and systemic racial oppression. 

  • Acknowledge that racism is a humanitarian crisis that affects many people in different ways. It will require the tireless work and efforts of all within the Division of Student Life to enact change and to progress towards a more equitable and accessible campus for all. 

    • Through our Division’s Be Well initiative, we are committed to guiding students towards a life that sustains and empowers wellness which is not monolithic and meets the needs of each student.

    • We are aware of the harm and intergenerational trauma perpetuated by white supremacy and white dominant culture through behaviors such as microaggressions and are committed to making a more inclusive Division, campus and society to improve the lives and support of all. 

    • We must disrupt the culture of “niceness”. We acknowledge the intentions of “nice” and/ or ‘good people’ do not delineate the negative impact of their actions which are often the result of unconscious bias. We will practice humility when being called-in for perpetuating harm and correcting our actions.

  • We acknowledge the intersectional identities of our diverse student body and that Black, Brown and other students of color are not monolithic.

    • The intersections of race and nationality/nation of orientation are often impacted by racism, xenophobism, antisemitism, islamophobia and other forms of religious hatred. We must continue to look at race, racism and anti-Blackness from a global lens. 

    • We must continue to recognize the intersectionality of race and gender. We acknowledge the countless oppression and frequent murders of Black, Brown, and other People of Color in the Transgender, Nonbinary community.

    • We will continue to ensure that all of these intersections along with other intersectional identities are not only recognized and acknowledged, but our practices, procedures, programs and services reflect these intersectional identities in their multiplicity. 

  • We recognize that striving to be an antiracist division will require life-long work and that pushing through discomfort fosters growth. 

    • We will not be a perfect Division. Although we will make mistakes, we will take collective accountability and our work will not halt. 

    • We will continue to be vigilant as we learn, listen, hold each other accountable, and take action. 

    • We will practice cultural humility by remaining humble, curious, and passionate about our commitment to learning and engaging in anti-racist work.

    • We pledge to measure ourselves as we fight injustice, racism, and other forms of oppression so that we foster a campus community that is safe, welcoming, and inclusive. A place where every member, regardless of race, religion, gender, sex, socio-economic status, etc. and the intersections of these identities can thrive. 

To learn more about our commitment to anti-racism please visit the MHC College anti-racism action plan here: https://www.mtholyoke.edu/president/mount-holyoke-colleges-anti-racism-action-plan

Division of Student Life Anti Racism Statement Terminology and  Resources

Anti-Black - The Council for Democratizing Education defines anti-Blackness as being a two-part formation that both voids Blackness of values, while systematically marginalizing Black people and their issues. The first form of anti-Blackness is overt racism. Beneath this anti-Black racism is the cover structural and systemic racism which categorically predetermines the socioeconomic status of Black individuals in this country. The structure is held in place by anti-Black policies, institutions, and ideologies.

The second form of anti-Blackness is the unethical disregard for anti-Black institutions and policies. This disregard is the product of class, race, and/or gender privilege certain individuals experience due to anti-Black institutions and policies. This form of anti-Blackness is protected by the first form of overt racism. https://www.racialequitytools.org/glossary#anti-black

Anti-racism - The active process of identifying  and eliminating racism by changing systems, organizational structures,  policies and practices and attitudes, so that power is redistributed and  shared equitably." NAC International Perspectives: Women and Global  Solidarity.

Action Continuum - A spectrum of ways that people can respond to injustice; ranges from actions that support prejudice, divisiveness, and social injustice to actions that promote prejudice reduction, coalitional work, and social justice (adapted from McClintock, 2001).

Diversity - The collective mixture of human beings and the identities they have co-existing in  a space. 

Equity - Fairness for all regardless of their individual identities.

Inclusion - Creating a space where you have welcoming, belonging, respect, and an equitable opportunity for people to show up authentically as who they are in a meaningful way. 

Solidarity - Realizing the value of aligning oneself with the aims and values of social justice movements across multiple social identities, social locations, and social positions. For example: Taking a stand in support of the struggle for social justice of different groups. 

Ally/allies - Individual(s) who take a stand against prejudice and discrimination directed at people from targeted or marginalized groups or who choose to support the struggle of other social groups because they have common goals and are committed to social justice. Examples include white people who work to end all forms of racism, cisgender men and women who support the struggle for inclusion of transgender individuals, AfricanAmerican people who work to end discrimination against Arab-Americans, and heterosexual men who work to end homophobia (Kaye/Kantrowitz, 1992; Wijeyesinghe, Griffin, & Love, 1997).

Coalition - A collection of people from different cultural and/or social groups who come together to work toward a common goal; “. . . works with, but does not ignore, differences and conflicts of interest” (Crowfoot & Chesler, 1996, p. 204). Examples include several civil rights and social movement organizations such as the organization for Human Immigrant Rights in Los Angeles, CA; the National Women Coalition against Violence and Exploitation; and the Southern Coalition for Social Justice. 

Spheres of Influence- These are areas over which one has control, where one can work for change. This may include one’s personal network of family and friends, family and co-workers, community, or local institutions (Tatum, 1997).

Power over/with/from within - A concept that can be deployed in a number of ways, including hierarchal dominance, a non-hierarchal and collaborative process for mutual benefit and self-determination, or an internal source of energy (Irwin, 1996; Kreisberg, 1992).

Liberatory consciousness - A tool that enables us to maintain an awareness of the dynamics of oppression without giving into despair and hopelessness; an awareness of the roles played by each individual in the maintenance of that system without blaming them for the roles they play; the ability to live outside of the patterns of thought and behavior learned through an oppressive socialization process in order to be intentional about our role in working toward transformation (Love, 2013).

Advocacy - Organized efforts of individuals or groups to change policies, practices, and cultural climates within institutional contexts (i.e., a hospital, school, corporation, etc.).

Cycle of Liberation - A cyclical pattern of events and processes that are common to successful efforts to create critical transformation and social change, including intrapersonal awareness, interpersonal community-building, and systemic change (Harro, 2013).

Agency - A tool that enables us to maintain an awareness of the dynamics of oppression without giving into despair and hopelessness; an awareness of the roles played by each individual in the maintenance of that system without blaming them for the roles they play; the ability to live outside of the patterns of thought and behavior learned through an oppressive socialization process in order to be intentional about our role in working toward transformation (Love, 2013).

Unconscious/ Implicit Bias - The attitudes or stereotypes that affect our understanding, actions, and decisions in an unconscious manner. These biases encompass both favorable and unfavorable assessments, and are activated involuntarily and without an individual’s awareness or intentional control (The Kirwan Institute).

Internalized Racial Oppression - When members of stigmatized groups, who are bombarded with negative messages about their own abilities and intrinsic worth, may internalize those negative messages.

Individual Racial Oppression -  The beliefs, attitudes, and actions of individuals that support or perpetuate racism. Individual racism can occur at both an unconscious and conscious level, and can be both active and passive. Examples include telling a racist joke, using a racial epithet, or believing in the inherent superiority of Whites.” (Wijeysinghe, et al, p. 89).

Interpersonal/Individual Racial Oppression - Prejudices and discriminatory behaviors where one group makes assumptions about the abilities, motives, and intents of other groups based on their identity. 

Horizontal Racial Oppression - “The result of people of targeted racial groups believing, acting on, or enforcing the dominant (White) system of racial discrimination and oppression. Horizontal racism can occur between members of the same racial group...or between members of different targeted racial groups.” (Wijeysinghe, et al, p. 98). 

Institutional Racial Oppression - Where assumptions are structured into the social and economic institutions in our society. 

Structural/Cultural Racial Oppression - This refers to the accumulation over centuries of the effects of a racist, sexist, classist, etc. society.

Internalized dominance - Internalized dominance occurs among white people when they believe and/or act on assumptions that white people are superior to, more capable, intelligent, or entitled than people of color. It occurs when members of the dominant white group take their group’s socially advantaged status as normal and deserved, rather than recognizing how it has been conferred through racialized systems of inequality. Internalized dominance may be conscious or unconscious.” (Bell, et al., p. 137).

The Ideology of White Supremacy - Describes the belief system that rationalizes and reproduces white advantage in the political, social, and cultural institutions of society. This belief system holds that white people, white culture, and things associated with whiteness are superior to those of other racial groups. It assumes as normal and rational that the interests and perceptions of white individuals are central in society. Unlike overt white supremacist groups, this racial ideology may be unexamined or unconscious. Relations of white dominance and subordination of other are reenacted daily throughout institutions and social settings in a society where whites overwhelmingly control material resources, and ideas about entitlement are widespread (Bell, et al.,2016, p. 138).

White Supremacy Culture perpetuates dominant white culture values such as:

  • “Rugged Individual,” Self sufficiency

  • Perfectionism / going right to critique

  • One right way

  • Emotional Restraint

  • Sense of Urgency

  • Assumptions and Judgments

  • Status Quo

Adopted from Okun,T. (2001),  White Supremacy Culture. Retrieved from  https://www.dismantlingracism.org/