College of Charleston, Women’s and Gender Studies’
Summer 2020 Statement of Commitments to Anti-Racism
Three years ago, when a group of CofC students committed racist acts during Halloween of 2017, we asserted:
The Women’s and Gender Studies program advances feminist and social justice values through its curriculum, through the scholarship of affiliated faculty, and through student and faculty activism on all forms of oppression and discrimination including sexism, racism, xenophobia, homophobia, transphobia, and ableism. As such, we support and celebrate the recent engagement from our students and faculty colleagues to directly confront unacceptable expressions of these interlocking oppressions.
Today we reaffirm our commitment to direct confrontation as a means for transformative change, and thereby support members from our community – students (past and present), faculty, community supporters, staff – who are currently protesting in the movement for Black lives. The mounting devastation we are witnessing and experiencing must result in the dismantling of social structures and processes that uphold, as our national organization writes, “structural racism and systemic violence rooted in white supremacy, racialized heteropatriarchy, capitalism, militarism, imperialism, and the carceral state” (read the National Women’s Studies Association statement). In short, Black Lives Matter.
WGS as an academic discipline was born in and of struggles for justice. But that does not absolve us of complicity in perpetuating systemic failings of our social institutions, particularly in our home of higher education. Our commitment to the struggle for liberation always has been, is now, and will continue to be sustained, beyond a particular crisis or media moment. Our work persists beyond the atrocities. Our efforts continue after the cameras are gone, subsequent to statements flooding our inboxes, beyond the “crisis;” revolution is ongoing, and has a history much more complex than what is immediately available. Because of this, we will always strive to do better.
We acknowledge the physical, emotional, spiritual, and psychological sacrifices that protestors, many of whom are students, make. We assert our solidarity with them and other agents of progressive change. In words and in praxis, we honor the Black, Indigenous, LGBTQ+, individuals and people of color who historically have borne the burdens of transforming communities and reimagining futures.
We want to make our on and off campus communities aware of the additional efforts we are taking “at home” to support the struggle for liberation broadly, and the movement for Black lives specifically. We commit to the following objectives and corresponding actions, which have been collaboratively developed with the intention to be collaboratively implemented:
Objective: hold space for anti-racist dialogue, resistance and community.
- Action: WGS and affiliates (namely the Gender and Sexuality Equity Center, GSEC) organized one Creating Space to Build Together session (June 05, 2020). We plan to hold these regularly and indefinitely.
- Action: Interrogate historical and contemporary feminism’s culpability in racism and learn how to do better through book discussions and workshops. We will include faculty affiliates, staff, students, alumni, and Community Advisory Board members. We welcome suggestions from these groups to guide our work.
Objective: encourage and support anti-racist, inclusive, decolonial, liberatory pedagogies and strategies.
- Action: We will pivot all 2020-2021 T.E.A. with WGS (Teaching to Engage and Activate) professional development sessions to reflect this focus. These sessions have been held approximately 3-4 times per semester over the last two years for WGS affiliated and adjunct faculty. We will broaden our invitations to participate so that faculty not affiliated with WGS can engage in these conversations with us.
- Action: We have developed an abbreviated online resource guide for inclusive pedagogy and a more comprehensive “living” document.
Objective: include minoritized student voices in program-level decision making.
- Action: We have invited student leaders, with intentional invitations to students from marginalized groups, to participate in a Student Advisory Board, which will serve in an advisory role to the program and all of its efforts.
Objective: diffuse anti-racist education beyond the classroom.
- Action: We will be organizing WGS “pop-up” classes around the theme of Intersectionality and Racial Justice, in the context of the South, which will feature experts, learning opportunities, community engagement activities, etc. on a variety of topics. These will continue through 2020-21 and beyond.
Objective: support critical race curriculum at the College of Charleston.
- Action: We will continue advocating strongly for the Race, Ethnicity, and Inclusion undergraduate requirement (currently pending).
- Action: We will develop WGS courses to support this curriculum, and commit all necessary resources associated with the requirement. We further commit that our next faculty line request will help to both staff these courses and further develop this expertise within the program with specialty areas in critical race studies and/or queer of color critique.
Objective: contribute to the visibility of Black creativity, resilience, scholarship, and joy.
- Action: We will continue to intentionally amplify the experiences, creativity, talents, and power of Black artists, podcasters, entrepreneurs, elected officials, community advocates, scientists, musicians, scholars, and writers through our events, curriculum, community engagement, and social media platforms.
We recognize that the actions listed here are only the first steps in meeting our objectives; we will be providing regular updates on our web and social media channels. We welcome feedback, critique, and further collaboration from our on and off campus communities.
In solidarity and in community,
The WGS Executive Committee
Vivian Appler (she/her), Kris De Welde (she/her), Cara Delay (she/her), Melissa Hughes (she/her), Christy Kollath-Cattano (she/her), Julia McReyonds Perez (she/her).
The WGS Student Advisory Board
Tanner Crunelle (he/him), Kristen Graham (she/her), Cam Lacey (she/her), Jasmine Tindall (she/her), Reagan Williams (she/her)
The WGS Community Advisory Board
Amanda Bunting-Comen (she/her), Margaret Pilarski (she/her), Barbie Schreiner (she/her), Callie Shell (she/her), Leah Suárez (she/her), Ali Titus (she/her)
Dated: July 20.2020