In Peggy Chang’s notes she details all of the intricate steps members of the Third World and LGBA steering committee had to tackle in an effort to demand and rectify the racial and homophobic harassment incidents occurring on campus. Her notes indicate names to each comment, which sometimes signify what individuals said and other times indicate they are responsible for accomplishing the task. Her and her dedicated group of colleagues strategically and meticulously brainstormed the best ways to obtain their objectives, including calling a press conference and reaching out to a broad base of student organizations to build a stronger coalition for their cause. Their list of short term demands and long term recommendations to improve the university speak volumes to the kind of environment they conceptualized for the future.
On Wednesday May 7th 2014 I interviewed Dean Besenia Rodriguez ‘00 who is currently serving as an Associate Dean of the College.
Brown socio-political atmosphere as an undergrad
When she was an undergraduate, before the President Simmons era, one of the most critical issues facing students was financial aid. During her time at Brown the argument had been “Brown cannot afford to be need blind.” However when President Simmons took office in 2001 she turned the argument on its head and declared “Brown can’t afford not to be need blind.” Dean Rodriguez remembers there also being a big concern around the absence of faulty and administrators of color, support for LGBTQ and students of color, and the support for programs such as the Ethnic Studies concentration. She identifies Professor Robert Lee and Professor Cynthia Garcia-Coll as two of the few tenured professors of color. Dean Rodriguez remarks on the increased number of young professors of color presently at the university and how that just wasn’t a part of the landscape during her time at Brown.
This document shows 56 incidents (typed out on seven pages!) that were reported within less than one month in the Spring of 1989 that were in some capacity racially biased related incidents. The actions range in severity from written racial slurs on whiteboards and threatening phone calls to physical altercations and assault.
This primary document is a letter that appears in the African Sun, a Brown University student run publication that is currently not in print. Anne Arthur ’85 prefaces the letter by recapping the various bias-related incidents targeted at Black women throughout the year of 1982. At the end of her remarks, she fervently calls upon readers to direct their concerns to President Howard Swearer and Dean John Robinson in University Hall. Donna Williams ’86 was a first year who was a victim of a bottle throwing incident one month into her Brown career. She gives a firsthand account of having beer bottles thrown through dorm room windows and the unproductive handling of the incident after reporting it to a Brown security officer. The officer told her and her friends that nothing could be done about the incident. Through her commentary, she hoped to raise the concern of safety and violence on campus and the ineffective ways in which the authorities responded.
On May 6th 2014 at 2:34pm, I interviewed Peggy Chang ’93 who currently works as the director of the Curricular Resource Center and has worked at Brown in higher education as a staff member for over 20 years. She recently received a Masters Degree in Public Humanities in 2013. She was involved with TWTP as a first year and the MPC Program as a sophomore, which she saw as a fairly robust and life changing program. The MPCs at the time were the movers and shakers at the University and gained a lot of visibility for students of color.
No, to my dismay, the TWC did not have a group dedicated to female emcees. In 1980, the connotation of rap was quite different from that of today. In this case, a “rap group” refers to an informal discussion that is formed to address issues and concerns of a particular group. On May 15th 1980, Christine Van ’82 solicited the feedback of self-identified Third World Women students to assess the successes and weaknesses of the rap group. Outside of this form, however, I was unable to find additional documentations about the Third World Women Rap Group and whether it continued to exist prior to or beyond 1979-80.
- Will you please introduce yourself
- Dania Matos, Class of 2003. Puerto Rican.
- Do you give permission that this oral/ visual history be published in our resource website?
Though not all in chronological order, this document illustrates multiple acts of racially motivated aggressions against women of color as well as men of color. These violent assaults ranged from having glass bottles thrown out of windows to being followed home to aggressively being called derogatory terms. However, this two page list of grievances did not comprise the total amount of violent racial aggressions experienced by women of color in the early 1980s. On the contrary, the author(s) of the document make a point to declare that many students of color at Brown did not report the crimes committed against them for lack of faith in the reliability of the Department of Public Safety. Their logic being if the very people that are meant to protect you are the ones turning the other cheek when you need them most, why put yourself in another vulnerable position? In addition, the detailed list of macroaggressions asserts that in general when these atrocities were “investigated” more times than not the guilty party was cleared of any racially motivated charges, though the slurs were documented.
During the Spring Weekend of 1985, members of the Theta Delta Chi Fraternity hosted a football tournament to raise money for the Sojourner House, a shelter in Providence to help women. However, during this tournament some members took it upon themselves to hold up score cards rating the women that walked by them. A group of women, both participants in the Third World protests and non-participants, met immediately to devise a course of action. The following Thursday more than 250 women and men courageously gathered on Wriston Quad, despite a chilling Providence drizzle, for five hours and listened to each other’s stories of sexual harassment, both reported and unreported. The women also read a list of demands directed at the university and charged Brown administrators with making the campus a safer place for all students.
This article from 1986 provides a glance into the relationship between the Sarah Doyle Women’s Center and Third World women of Brown. Based on the narratives within this piece, it becomes clear that the Sarah Doyle Women’s Center foundation on feminism reflected the traditional 2nd wave feminism that focused on bourgeoise, middle-class ideals. This alignment of the SDWC with this single-faceted feminist agenda naturally excluded women of color at Brown during this time. One of the poignant examples used to describe the differences between white feminism and Third World women feminism was about the fight for labor rights. As part of the white feminist agenda, women wanted to be allowed to work, however, this issue was of no concern to Black women because they have always worked, forcibly or voluntarily.