Alexander Morales, Senior & Former Spirit Chair of the Guilford College Campus Activities Board, Guest Writer
March 6, 2015
To my friends in the community, I would like to relay a series of events that has shaken my beliefs about how genuinely we adhere to our stated Quaker values within our institution. As a result of ill-informed and vengeful attacks on the character of myself and my friends, I have been forced to resign from the Campus Activities Board.
During my upbringing, one lesson my mother drilled in me was that I would have to be twice as good, due to the color of my skin. That lesson never really sank in until I became a member of CAB here. Taking that lesson to heart, instead of confronting them, I worked harder. This year as chair of the Spirit Committee, with my committee, we threw some of the most successful events in the history of CAB and managed to attract a large audience that reached different parts of the community that had previously not even known about CAB.
But this run of success, made possible by my team, was not enough to shield me from long-standing prejudice. As a result of a misunderstanding, the administration of CAB unleashed a vicious character assault and accused a committee member and friend of mine of being prejudiced, without even attempting to understand the context. The CAB managers also used this incident to finally unleash their true feelings towards me and punished me by cutting my pay in half, not because of my actions, but because of my inaction and failure to reprimand my friend for his opinion. This would be understandable because I failed to address this situation optimally. However, they never trained me for a situation like this. In this light, perhaps a more reasonable approach would have been to treat this as an educational opportunity instead of adopting a cold and mechanical approach due to their failure to prepare me for this situation. This injustice was exacerbated because this decision was rendered by an all white administration that ignored my perspective, which sounds hypocritical due to the accusations of fostering prejudice. When I confronted them about my unease with the decision process, they promised to have a meeting with me and the Multicultural Education Department, a promise which was left unfulfilled.
Despite my discomfort and the advice of my friends and family, I decided to remain and continue the work I did last semester. I hoped for reconciliation and to rebuild the lost trust, but I received acrimony and pettiness instead. Because of an unforeseen academic assignment from my advisor, I knew that I would be unable to do an event and informed, in advance notice, the CAB administrators that I would need some help putting on this event. Because of their petty grievances against me, they declined to help me and attempted to adopt further punitive measures. Since I had enough of this ordeal, I decided to resign.
During my time on this board, I was uncomfortable with many practices we had. While other student organizations were starved of funding, we were encouraged to spend money, even wastefully, so we could get even more money next year. I attempted to use my funds to collaborate with other organizations that lacked funding. However, last semester, I was reprimanded for not spending enough money. In political science, one learns that, at their worst, organizations work to protect their own interests not the interests of the people they serve. CAB here is an example of an organization like that. Since most of the members of the board are similar in orientation, the board is subject to groupthink and resists new ideas. As a result, CAB lacks a broad enough perspective to reach the student body and be relevant to most people on campus. Therefore, we had to use high spending to justify even higher funding.
Despite my criticism of CAB, I want this organization to succeed and reach more students. However, if it is to succeed, the CAB administration needs to change its ways and learn how to embrace different perspectives while confronting their own prejudices. The leadership of CAB needs to take a long hard look at itself and, perhaps, greater transparency in planning and budgeting would help. Due to my departure, this could be an opportunity for CAB to right its ways and use some of the sumptuous funding for my budget for funding some of the safety and wellness initiatives for Serendipity. I would encourage anyone who is considering joining CAB to heed my warnings and not join an organization that doesn’t have any flexibility for your academic commitments and is ineffective at achieving its objectives. I think that your efforts and creativity would be more appreciated and have more of an impact elsewhere.