Aryelle Lispscomb

Students gather around a table during the May 6 protest. Aryelle Lipscomb, top middle, holds her “Financially support Black people” sign.

President Fernández,

As you may know by now, Eckerd College is in a state of deep distress because of the continuing racial tension on campus. Before I even stepped on this campus, I knew about the racial disparities occurring within the population of students, faculty and staff. Having gone to a private predominantly white institution for the majority of my life in grade school, I believed that I was ready for another socio-cultural challenge. I would have never thought that this decision may backfire on me so aggressively just a couple years later. On March 3, there was a debate between ECOS candidates where some of the candidates said extremely insensitive comments towards myself, another AAS officer and students of color in general. Even though I have experienced many microaggressions on campus and heard of other biased incidents, this was the first time I felt blatant racism strike me across the face.

Following this incident, I was profiled two additional times, one of which was anonymous and the other by someone who I know, but have never spoken to. The second person chose to file a no-contact agreement, preventing me from attending a vital meeting discussing the future of leadership engagement on campus. During the meeting, this person continued to discriminate against me by falsely claiming that I threatened them. I never even held a conversation with the individual, yet they felt the need to say that I threatened them and that their parents were taking “the threats” very seriously. Not only did Campus Safety and Security allow this student to submit this no-contact after they already confirmed that there was no threat, but they have allowed for it to remain in place for over four entire weeks. The administration barely addressed the student body regarding the racist comments spoken within the student body. Eckerd College as an institution has shown that they will continuously disregard the inequitable treatment of Black students to further the agenda of the bigoted and privileged. 

 A friend recently asked me how I’m healing from the recent incidents. I replied: I haven’t had the chance to heal yet. I haven’t had a second to process and have not finished living through this yet. This issue has dominated my ability to heal; it has caused consequences in my life academically, socially, mentally and physically. I love this school so much, but with the way I have been ignored, pushed around and silenced, I have grown to feel embarrassed to call myself an Eckerd student. I began to believe that I deserved this and that my concerns were exaggerated. The moment my professors started claiming that they were aware of the racial climate on campus, I knew that this problem was bigger than I ever imagined it would be. Many professors are notorious for avoiding student conflict and drama, but the racism on campus had grown so well known and disgusting that every single person knew about it. I am sincerely disappointed and personally hurt by the fact that the recent events have not been addressed adequately by the president’s office. The notable ECOS debate occurred over a month ago, yet the administration has remained deafeningly silent. I ask that you not only acknowledge the events truthfully but also take responsibility for your inaction. The new campus initiatives are marketed to increase diversity, equity and inclusion, but somehow when a direct issue about DEI poisons the campus, it is not treated as a presidential problem. It’s extremely discrediting, and again, embarrassing. This is not just a little part of a ten-year plan that gets forgotten by the end of the year. This is my life that is getting affected. I came here to be a student, and here I am trying to explain why I deserve the bare minimum from a $60,000 per year institution. I’ve had to face this trauma every day. I ask that you face it too and actually make a change, not in ten years, but now. 

 

Regards,

Aryelle Lipscomb

 

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