ASPC Collective Memory Project Honors Campus Activism
Leah Kelly | Nov. 10, 2017, 1:44 a.m.
Throughout November, ASPC will be posting excerpts online from “Revisiting A Call to Action,” a 56-page document published in 2004 by Pomona College students aiming to “shed light on specific issues faced by marginalized students at Pomona and reveal how such problems are continuously reproduced within the campus community."
So far, ASPC has posted quotes from “Revisiting A Call to Action” that descibe racially insensitive actions of a faux-fraternity in 2004, issues with professors consistently mistaking students of color for one another, the need for support in the Latinx community, results from a survey that show numerous faculty of color feeling pressured into silence, a racist flyer made by a Pomona men’s a capella group, and a student’s concerns about the lack of respect for diversity. Each post is accompanied by a caption beginning with the phrase “THIS IS A CALL TO ACTION.”
ASPC also posted a video on its Twitter page about Pomona firing Latino workers in the midst of a 2012 union-organizing drive.
Teofanny Saragi PO ‘18, founder of the Collective Memory Project, created the program this semester as part of their duties as ASPC’s current commissioner of community relations.
The Collective Memory Project draws from ideas established in the "Call to Action" document, which was first written in 1990 and ‘revisited’ in 2004.
“Call to Action was one of the first formalized ways that students of color [as well as LGBTQIA+, low-income/first-generation, and other 'marginalized' students] came together to advocate for institutional change, and so the Collective Memory Project is kind of a revisiting of the revisiting,” Saragi said.
Saragi said they were inspired to create the project because they are involved with and influenced by the different marginalized communities at the Claremont Colleges. They want to remember and continue the work that has been done to help these communities.
“The point of the Collective Memory Project is getting people to realize that our experiences are built on the shoulders of others, and that the work we do now is for future generations of students,” Saragi said.
Saragi is working with several of their peers, including sophomore class president Lemuel Lan PO '18, on this multi-step project. The project began with the social media posts throughout the month of November, though it has broader goals.
“The other part to this project is that we are also hoping to release a document by the end of this spring that follows up the 2004 document, that fills in the gaps between 2004 and 2017 to 2018,” Saragi said. “[I also] wanted to do community listening podcasts, so essentially sitting down with alums and current students who are leaders and activists and just talking and having those conversations as podcasts.”
While Saragi wants to continue the project in the future, they said it could be difficult to keep it running. They hope that future commissioners of community relations can help keep memories alive when others are too busy.
“People don’t often take the time to reflect and remember, so I think this hopefully is a move toward having the ASPC commissioner of community relations position be that person, to have the capacity to remember,” they said.
Sherwin Shabdar PO '18, president of the Students of Color Alliance, is excited about the Collective Memory Project.
“We think that this project is wonderful both as a look to the not-too-distant past and as a place to reflect on the future,” Shabdar wrote in an email to TSL.
Saragi hopes the Collective Memory Project will help members of the 5Cs remember the history of activism on the campuses and recognize the importance of the student voice.
“One of the hopes is to have people collectively remember the history that underlies our institutions,” Saragi said, “and to know that mentor programs and resource centers don’t just exist in isolation, and don’t just exist because the administration gave them to us. It’s the exact opposite. Students have to fight for it.”
Saragi invites people at the Claremont Colleges to submit feedback about what types of memories or histories they want to know more about, or any other ideas they might have to contribute to the Collective Memory Project.