Anonymous Letters from Community Members Circulate

Treat Shepardson

A letter from an anonymous group identifying themselves as “concerned faculty and alumni of color” spread across Facebook late Sunday night/Monday morning, April 23-24, after originally being posted by the Facebook page “Transforming Hampshire into an Anti-Racist Institution.” The post, which had approximately 50 shares as of Wednesday afternoon, linked to an entry on a one-off WordPress site under the banner “Exploited Labor at Hampshire.” This entry deals with the current state of crisis being felt at the school, the exploitation of caregiving labor done by students, staff, and faculty of color in the community, and Hampshire’s poor institutional memory and willful denial of its entanglement with systems of oppression. Of particular interest is the recommendation that courses on racism be made mandatory. The letter acknowledges that this would be a dramatic change to Hampshire’s commitment to self-guided education, but argues that this is a necessary corrective, as engaging with “the complex intersections of race, sexual difference, and social power” should not be optional. The letter can be read in full at http://exploitedlabor.blogspot.com/

A second letter, this one from “concerned members of Hampshire non-student staff,” followed at around 8:00PM Wednesday afternoon, April 27. It was also posted to Facebook by Transforming Hampshire into an Anti-Racist Institution, and published on its own Tumblr site, this one headlined “Invisible Staff” and with the blog entry titled #showupforstaff. This letter focuses on the invisible status of non-student staff, and once again takes up the issue of the extra labor taken on by Hampshire’s “overworked, underpaid, underappreciated, and under-resourced” staff, particularly in the face of responding to crises; supporting students of color, trans students and survivors; and working to make Hampshire anti-oppressive. The letter warns that this emotionally and mentally exhausting environment is not sustainable, and ends with a call for the community to become positively engaged with the climate on campus. This letter can be read at http://showupforstaff.tumblr.com/

The writers of the first letter note that they are unable to sign it for fear of reprisal. The writers of the second include a footnote stating “we do not represent every individual staff member, all staff, or the Staff Advocacy Committee.” The Howler spoke briefly with the Transforming Hampshire into an Anti-Racist Institution page via Facebook, but we are not in touch with the authors of either letter, and the authors of these letters are not known to us.

 

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