The Intercultural Coalition of Goshen College (ICGC) organized a town hall meeting on Wednesday, April 11. The event took place at the Fellowship Hall in College Mennonite Church in front of students, faculty, staff and community members.
The meeting was held following a student lead walk out on March 21, that saw students head to President Stoltzfus’s office and present her with the stories of racism on campus, the coalition's mission statement and a summary of resolutions.
The panel consisted of President Stoltzfus, Ken Newbold, Jo-Ann Brant, Linda VandenBosch, Dr Mitch Mitchell, Gilberto Perez, and Duane Stoltzfus. Along with ICGC leaders: Elijah Lora, Nimoy G Vaidya, Yazan Meqbil, Mariane Grace, Alia Byrd, Katja Norton, Jose Ramirez and Achieng Agutu.
The meeting was set up to discuss in more detail how some of the requests presented to the administration will be carried out in the fall semester.
“We are hoping to be transparent with the Goshen College community about what it is exactly ICGC is asking for,” said Alia Byrd, an ICGC leader. “ I hope that we can get some answers and resolutions to the questions and requests we’ve turned in, and can see actual progress moving forward.”
Yazan Meqbil, another leader of the ICGC, explained how he hoped to get the administration to publically commit to the implementation of the requests.
Jason Shank chaired the meeting. He followed the format of allowing ICGC members to introduce the section of the resolutions and then allowed the rest of the panel to respond. Whilst this was going on the audience were able to write and submit questions to the panel, which they then answered.
The meeting began by looking at section one, two and eight of the requests that were submitted by ICGC. This included mandatory anti-racism training for professors, coaches and teaching assistants, along with training at the start of the fall semester for student leaders and student-athletes and training implemented into the Identity, Culture and Community (ICC) class.
The group stated how they wished for the training to come from an external organization and explained that different organizations may be used for different groups on campus; student athletes may receive training from one organization and professors another.
ICGC also explained how they want the training within ICC to follow a similar structure as the Prevention Intervention Network (PIN).
Following a question that asked if the training for student-athletes was targeting that group as being perpetrators, Achieng explained how that wasn’t the case. She stated that athletes are a large part of the campus community as well as leaders due to how highly they are thought of.
“If that’s how it came off we apologize,” she said.
The meeting covered all sections of the document, although some in more detail than others. Throughout the night, ICGC emphasized there commitment to hold administration accountable to the concerns and requests. President Stoltzfus expressed her commitment to continue the conversation on all of the requests.
In her closing statement, Stoltzfus stated out loud that she was committed to implementing the anti-racism training and that a decision needed to be made on what organizations would lead that training. She also publicly committed to having a student apart of the racial misconduct team and having additional discussions on a safe space for an intercultural resource center.
In the closing statement from the ICGC, Lora encouraged students to “Speak up, reach out and make a change.”
Following the event, Ramirez reflected on the nights discussion. “I feel like we are making moves in the right direction, but still have a long way to go,” he said.