Refuse the Silence

“The College knows how to recruit us (minorities) into their prestigious institutions, but they have no idea what to do with us once we’re there.” Morgane Richardson ’08 reflects on her time at Middlebury by describing a series of events that led to her becoming “a campus activist and a mentor to other women of color at Middlebury.” A “Cowboys and Injuns” party, a swastika drawn on her door, and a crime alert with the description of “nappy hair” were just a few examples of how she came to develop a sense that Middlebury somehow abandoned its women of color as soon as they arrived as freshmen.

Richardson now runs the organization Refuse the Silence, using stories to help college administrators at elite liberal arts institutions “improve the college climate for women of color.” A recent interview with Richardson goes in depth about her time at Middlebury and what she plans to do with her organization.

Below is a video story that exemplifies what Richardson is trying to get at:

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3 thoughts on “Refuse the Silence

  1. As an rising freshman (white male), i find this extremely frightening. A little context about other peoples’ experiences might be helpful in understanding if this is a individual perspective or a widespread problem…yup.

  2. Hi incoming,

    Yes, you’re absolutely valid in asking for some context. Are there race and gender issues at Middlebury? Absolutely. This happens across the country in many colleges and universities. But it’s how we approach the problem and talk about it that reflects on our institution.

    That is the value in Richardson’s work, from my perspective — how do you begin discussing women of color at elite institutions like Middlebury, especially for people who don’t identify immediately with the problem? I would say that the majority of students at Middlebury will never in their four years encounter the issues Richardson points out, not out of ignorance but out of simply going along with the flow of a happy campus. But it is still valuable and worth it to bring those hidden experiences into the open? Yes.

    Finally, a good entry point to this is during the Orientation program called “Beyond Facebook.” Last year’s pioneering round of this activity was a big step toward drawing freshmen into a larger campus discussion about hidden issues on campus, if you ask me.

  3. MiddBlog

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