Candidates Statements December 2017- Social Justice and Equity Position

Natasha Porter
Dear Bryn Mawr Community, my name is Natasha Porter (class of 2020, she/her) and I am running for the Social Justice and Equity E-Board position. I am interested in this position as I have gained so much from being part of this community and I truly appreciate being here. However, like with everything else, there are many improvements that can be made to make our campus better – by celebrating our diversity while aiming to be connected as one community. The new SGA mission to uplift the voices of marginalized students resonates with me, as while our school is a progressive place, it reflects larger structures of exclusion and marginalization in our society as a whole. Therefore, I would like to use my experiences, the experiences of other people of color on this campus (both current students and alums), and my love of our community in general to help lay the foundations for a SGA that effectively represents the voices of all members of our community. If you have any questions please feel free to email me at npoter@brynmawr.edu. Thank you.
Janina Calle

To the Bryn Mawr College community,

My name is Janina Calle and I am writing in efforts to express my desire to serve as the SGA’s Social Justice and Equity E-Board representative.

As the first semester of my first year at Bryn Mawr college comes to an end, I have become quite reflective. I reflect on the concern I had coming in as a freshman. Like most of us, I feared the new adjustment of simply having to make new friends, navigate through an unknown campus, and succeeding as a scholar. However, it was not until I step foot on this campus that I realized that the factors that comprised my identity made me uncomfortable in a space that appeared to differ than from what I was taught to understand as the norm. Given that I was raised in an inner-city filled with people that resembled me, I was a bit shocked to not see as many familiar looking faces on campus. But honestly, this realization demonstrates so much more. It demonstrates the impact that living in a nation that has failed to recognize and provide for people that deviate from what has been settled as being the ‘standard’ has created. As a consequence, being in an institution that in many ways has perpetuated ideologies that have inhibited the growth of Brown and Black people in America, has created a genuine fear that is not unique to me.

Nonetheless, I was able to find a sense of belonging at a predominately white institution. A reality that I genuinely would not have thought to be possible without the supportive, intelligent, and kind friends I have made. The transition has not been easy, but it is now more than ever that I see the importance of fostering a community of absolute inclusion not only within the confines of this campus, but through all borders both physical and invisible ones.

Certainly, inequality has existed since the beginning of time, but as cognizant people, we have the capabilities of recognizing that there is a problem and insisting for change towards combating it. The actions taken on this campus from students like ourselves and staff members should and will have a consequence to the future of this institution. Every effort to reform the unforgiving legacy of Bryn Mawr College and of the nation, should be done with the intent to not only serve current members of the community, but also for the sake of future members.

To whom may ever be chosen as the representative of the Social Justice and Equity E-board chair, they will be granted the great task of helping mend century old wounds beside a community that acknowledges the importance of this movement.

Cassandra Silva

Hey Bryn Mawr! My name is Cassandra Silva (they/them) and I am running for Social Justice and Equity Chair. I was excited that this position was established this year and hope to help Bryn Mawr be a more inclusive campus. I want to help foster a place where students are able to learn and live here without feeling held back because of who they are. On campus, I am a member of the Zami+ Executive Board where we focus on uplifting our community members and providing resources for those involved. Additionally, I help promote sustainability as a Green Ambassador. I am a sociology major with a specific focus on people who have been underrepresented in the field. I am passionate about fighting injustice and exclusion wherever it exists. I am a first generation student, a person of color, and queer and I understand how it feels to be isolated on a campus that has not historically been a place where people with diverse backgrounds are supported. In my first year attending this college, I struggled to see myself in academia at all because of who I am. Overcoming these obstacles is a constant battle and I want to emphasize the fact that everybody has something to contribute and is an important part of the Bryn Mawr community. I personally know how hard it can be and I am passionate about creating a place where more students are able to thrive. I want to make sure that students are being uplifted and their identities and origins are not obstacles in the way of their success here. I am committed to bettering our school and want to hold conversation with students about their experiences on this campus to make sure that improvements are being made for the benefit of the campus community. In this position, it is important to hear from you, the students. I wish to actively engage with you all to make sure that your voices are being heard in regards to social justice and equity on campus. I am very friendly and always up to socialize so if you have any questions or concerns feel free to approach me or reach out. I want to make myself available to you. I respond to emails quickly so feel free to contact me at cpsilva@brynmawr.edu.

Anu Atte

Hello all!

My name is Anu Atte, I prefer she/her pronouns, Class of 2019, and I am running for the position of Social Justice and Equity Chair on the SGA Executive Board.

As a Nigerian woman, I understood some aspects of discrimination growing up. I recognized that as a girl, I was expected to present myself in a way that didn’t ‘offend’ people. I talked too long and too loud, I wanted to run around and play rough games with the boys, I spoke my mind and I was competitive. I quickly realized that none of these things constituted society’s ideas of how a girl should act.

This understanding of marginalization grew when I moved to the United States to start college, a move which coincided with my growth into an adult. Suddenly I wasn’t ‘Yoruba’, which is my ethnicity. I was black. For some people, I was an even harsher slur for ‘black’ – the ‘n’ word. I was suddenly poor and ‘spoke good English, all things considered’ because I’m African. These realizations troubled and confused me, and suddenly I was searching for answers.

Arriving at Bryn Mawr, I started receiving words for the feelings and thoughts I was having, words like feminism and intersectionality and representation and marginalization. I learned that there are so many identities that our constructed society has deemed unacceptable, like being black, being a woman, being an immigrant, being disabled, being not straight or not cisgender. I learned that some people, myself included, hold more than one of these identities and receive even greater discrimination because of it. This made me angry, and made me want fix it all.

So far, my time at Bryn Mawr has helped me center my ideas and feelings about it all. Choosing my major became easy when I found out that I could have a focus in Global Social Justice if I became an International Studies major. I found understanding and love and support in campus communities like BACaSO, Sisterhood and the Enid Cook Center. I discovered the value of creating spaces where the marginalized can be themselves and be free in a world that gives us no room.

In a time and political climate where bigotry and hate are more explicit, where we are having to question and critique the institutions and systems that we are participants of, and where are demanding that they restructure their functions to include us all, including the ones on our very own campus, the creation of the Social Justice and Equity Chair is a move that could not have come at a better time. It would therefore be an honor for me to take on this role.

Social justice is an issue that I am fully invested in and passionate about, and I believe that this passion will help drive me to do the job to the best of my abilities. Having been a student government executive in my education prior to Bryn Mawr, I have experience working as a representative of the student body to the school administration, working as a team with other executives to meet the needs of the students, and managing my time to focus necessary attention on my duties, which was a necessary skill considering that it was a boarding school, making this a full-time job. I am confident that I am well equipped to help make Bryn Mawr College a place where all of our unique and important experiences as people are considered, understood, and included. Thank you!

Anu Atte

Class of 2019

aatte@brynmawr.edu