Hey everyone monitoring the trial,
I was asked to post my comments for the court. Here they are:
My name is Kay Cook. I’m a sophomore. I’m from Virginia, and I identify as white. I’d like to speak not only for myself, but on behalf of the progressive non-racial minority community.
I’d like to say first that I support the existence of racial minority seats on the Senate and F-Board. Even as a white student, I oftentimes feel isolated from the Union. I have witnessed Senators raise their voice against students speaking their mind at Senate meetings. And there’s no point in personal privileging yourself, these are just my observations. This past Sunday at the Senate meeting I heard comments from Senators that I would deem as racist in nature. I was personally offended by these comments, particularly one that directly mentioned a dear friend of mine. The meeting made me feel extremely emotional, disappointed, and angry, and I wasn’t even a member of the community being discussed. I can’t even imagine how difficult it could be to relate to these bodies (that is the Senate and the F-board) as a racial minority, especially considering the tense environment that race-related issues seem to encourage at Brandeis. Even if there happen to be members of the racial minority community on the Senate or F-Board for a given term, I feel it’s important to not only guarantee minority representation, but to have representatives who are solely responsible for minority advocacy.
Second, I recognize the power that white privilege holds in today’s society, even on Brandeis’s campus. The existence of racial minority positions in the Union in no way make me feel disenfranchised or discriminated against. Racism is a systematic process that endeavors to make individuals feel inferior. Even though these positions have the potential to piss some white students off or motivate them to complain that it’s unfair, racial minority representation does not make whites feel inferior. The elimination of the positions, however, DOES have the potential to make the racial minority community feel inferior. I feel Brandeis’s responsibility to protect against racism supersedes its responsibility to defend against discrimination. As I said before, I do not feel disenfranchised. I choose to identify as white. Out of respect for the racial minority community, I would never seek to vote or run for a racial minority position. I imagine that if I did not accept white privilege, and if I did feel personally discriminated against that I would simply change my identity on sage so that I could vote or run. This does remain an option within the current restrictions. In this way, white privilege deniers have the opportunity to voice their opinion without eliminating the positions and thus alienating the racial minority community.
Third and finally I do not feel this is the proper venue to debate this issue. White students cannot determine the significance of these positions for the racial minority community. Seeing as a Constitutional Review is schedule for next fall, I think it would be more appropriate to wait in order for the student body as a whole to discuss race relations on campus. After greater consideration any alterations to racial minority representation can be voted on by students and enacted with a 2/3 majority. Eliminating the Senate position in particular now, could undermine efforts to thoroughly consider the role of racial minorities during the Constitutional Review seeing as the Senate plays its own crucial role in the process.
The Brandeis Jewish community has taught me that as a non-Jew, I cannot comprehend the Holocaust in the same way as a Jewish person does. Similarly, I accept that I cannot understand racism in America in the way that a member of the racial minority community does. I urge this body to admit these limitations and to allow the racial minority community to decide the issue of minority representation for themselves.
For the sake of the future of the entire Student Union government and for peaceable race relations on campus, I beg the court to side with the Union.
Also, thank you to those who testified on behalf of the union and everyone who came out to support the defense.