Opinion: Heard it all before: The Cycle of Exploitation at Lafayette

Photo+courtesy+of+Gage+Skidmore

Photo courtesy of Gage Skidmore

Gregory Evans

President Byerly and her cabinet do not care about marginalized people on this campus. Point blank, period. They talk a wonderful, eloquent game, but when it is time to put their words into action, they fall flat every single time.

As my sixth semester here at Lafayette comes to a close, I find myself in a very familiar position. A discriminatory or problematic event or situation occurs that was in every way, shape and form preventable. Marginalized people on campus get upset, because chances are their overall wellness was not taken into account.

Then, President Byerly and company call in Lafayette’s own Clean-Up Crew of Color, leaders of marginalized student organizations, who then are supposed to listen to how she and the rest of her cabinet “hear our concerns” and “want to be better going forward.”

Then, we are stuck organizing discussions or events and piecing the disheveled campus climate back together just in the nick of time for programs like Our Beloved Community and Prologue where the college basically just lies to brown and black high schoolers about how welcoming the environment is. When, in reality, they just need more foot soldiers to add to the clean up crew, ultimately just allowing the cycle of exploitation to continue without fail.

I have been organizing protests and demonstrations since November of my freshman year. As a result, I am so emotionally drained that I was not even surprised that Nigel Farage is coming to campus under the guise of “academic debate” because I’ve seen this before.

As an intellectual, I believe there is definitely value in discourse that includes differing points of view. What I do not believe is that bigoted and xenophobic viewpoints deserve the chance, platform or time to be argued or defended. We can disagree on immigration policy, without someone calling Latinx immigrants rapists and blatant Islamophobia. Exploitative and colonialist anti-blackness and racism should not be the basis of your arguments for harsher sentences for drug trafficking.

Nevertheless, the reason why Lafayette is having a difficult time avoiding these discussions with bigoted undertones is because that is the environment that President Byerly and members of her cabinet have created by never taking a substantive stand on any issue regarding respecting the humanity of marginalized people on campus.

At best, we get a few emails from time to time reminding us that Lafayette is one “community” as if they are the ones actually in dorms, classrooms and other spaces combating intolerance every single day. These are just some of the many burdens placed on a marginalized person here at Lafayette, but I refuse to list any others because President Byerly and members of her cabinet have become professionals at disregarding the traumatic accounts and experiences of the most vulnerable people on this campus and will never care enough to proactively do anything about it.