On Monday, September 18th, Wheaton College held an event in the Chapel to discuss race in today’s societal context and acknowledge the victims of the attack that occurred in Charlottesville, Virginia on the 12th of August.
On August 12, a speeding car drove into a group of anti-racist protestors in Charlottesville, killing 32 year old Heather Heyer and injuring many others. The anti-racist protestors were contesting a racist march that had occurred at the University of Virginia the night before.
In light of this attack Wheaton held the event mentioned above, open to the entire campus, to honor the victims and further the conversation on race. Amongst the attendees were faculty and students.
Amongst the student attendees was Laura Villeneuve ‘20. Says Villeneuve, “The premise was to give students and the campus a safe space to talk about race in the wake of things like Charlottesville. Professors from the anthropology, sociology, and history departments gave opening remarks, and then we were split into groups. Each group went to a different room on campus with a few professors and had more intimate conversations about race.”
Villeneuve ‘20 elaborates on the concepts discussed, “In our group specifically, we talked about a few things: how race has no biological basis, the idea of colorblindness, among other things.”
At the end of the event professors left attendees with a strong message. Says Villeneuve ‘20 (explaining their closing remarks) “this teach-in should only be the beginning, and we should continue these conversations.”
Student response to the event was strong. Villeneuve ‘20 acts as an example, stating: “I left feeling very validated in my beliefs. I enjoyed the event so much, I emailed my history professor who was in my small group asking if I could meet with her to continue the conversation.”
Wheaton continues to be an open environment for student to discuss crucial issues.