The laudable efforts of the Pugh Center
This is my last year at Colby College, and I must applaud the students, faculty and administration that constantly put in effort to make Colby more multicultural and diverse. Since my first year there has not been consistency in regards to who is in charge of programming for the Pugh Center, which has left discontinuities with the student-led, multicultural space. However, since Associate Dean of Students and Director of the Pugh Center Tashia. Bradley has joined the Mule family, there has been a revamped program featuring mentorship programs, retreats, workshops and more. As a student leader on campus, I feel relieved knowing that there is now a constant presence of support and engagement on behalf of the Pugh Center.
Although I was not at Colby during last semester, when students purportedly marched down to President Bro Adams’s office and stormed in with a list of demands and grievances, I was glad to hear that students had organized in some capacity to let their voices be heard. Looking from the outside in, students seemed to claim that there were problems that needed to be addressed by the administration with a sense of urgency. However when I returned to campus, I was met with new programs, new enthusiastic first-years, retreats and events. This is where I began to realize the divide between the mainstream culture and what I call the underground student activism culture.
By “underground,” I do not necessarily mean those driven underground; I mean the culture of students that are a part of clubs on campus that work specifically on one topic of interest and build from that point. I could have easily been beguiled into believing that changes had already been made over the summer and that demands had been met, but the divide between the cultures on campus occurs at a threshold that is not very visible to the passing eye.
Of course the demands students made are valid and they should be addressed, but as a student involved in many campus groups and one who has taken on roles to interact with students who are not necessarily “mainstream,” I feel that the changes that we seek can be met by our own gumption and volition to go out and make them happen. This should occur with some iota of help from the administration, but I think it is foolhardy to put the onus of the problems we have on the administration. Yes, air our grievances, make demands, agitate, but remember it does not stop there and most of the changes we seek to make are occurring under our noses all over campus.
With so many new programs and ideas that may or may not have stemmed from last semester’s student outburst, we have tools, people and resources to make the changes we wish to see. We are more than fairly privileged here at Colby College and we can agitate without fear of persecution or harsh punishment—it is our right. Being away from Colby for only a semester has taught me that Colby is indeed a societal “bubble.” Most of the changes we desire on campus are happening, people are thinking about them—hence Bradley and Director of Sexual and Gender Diversity Programs/Associate Director of the Pugh Center Andrea Breau, two wonderful resources available to students to facilitate and create change on campus. Whether our problems are student retention, gender and sexuality, learning disabilities or sustainability, I am sure that there are tools we can use to solve our own problems with help—not to be confused with dictation—from the administration. I hope the student activism continues and I look forward to hearing the voices of the student body, and Pledge to Pugh!