Xavier Torres De Janon
Hampshire College has exploited me. I have done too much free, invisible, unrecognized and unappreciated work for this neoliberal institution. Too many meetings that end in me doing all the work; too many Doodle Polls that I have to beg participation for; too much planning, organizing, supporting and showing up; too much problem-solving for disconnected higher-ups, myopic due to the students and stories they decide to surround themselves with. Too much putting up with the ignorant whiteness and masculinity that dominate circles of power, my energy, time and emotional capabilities drained repeatedly to the indifference of staff, supervisors, faculty, committee members, students, peers. Exploitation with no financial compensation: a neoliberal culture of unpaid internships and volunteering, of erasure and slavery. All I have are CELs and Ingenuity Awards, hollow networking and references, and a strange, erratic reputation out of my control.
And yet, despite this, Hampshire College no longer invites me to its administrative, suit-and-tie events, common occurrences of first-year Xavier. I am no longer considered in the countless top-down committee appointments, or asked to attend tea with the President, or dinner with the Trustees. You see, despite my sacrifices and incessant work for this ungrateful school, my presence has become too disruptive, radical and ‘illiberal’ for meetings and discussions. Despite the fact that I hold extensive unwritten knowledge and insight given my own unpaid involvement, I am not welcome in governance spaces. Staff members actually have to advocate for me being part of panels and talks, because administration naturally cannot take criticism, although it is essential for this school to ever evolve. This, of course, does not bother me as much as dissapoint and ostracize me, my value unrecognized to the point of silencing, censoring. My graduation will be a sigh of relief, and my return to this school will be questionable.
You could say it was my fault, and I agree: I put myself out there, said yes too many times, I agreed and ‘sold out.’ But why must I, again, be the one pointing my finger to this reality? Why must I remind others of my existence, of my body, of my humanity? I digress.
Please do not send me an apology email, or an invitation to talk. These are too late, and I no longer care. Unless you can promise me a job, food or a paycheck, I am not interested in furthering these exploitative structures. My Hampshire spirit can only take so much. I simply advise you to resist exploitation and interrupt these processes. I have learned, as always, through experience.
Commencement will be exciting.