Appropriating Change: Student Activism as a Source of Institutional Status

What does our work mean now and what will it mean in the future? Who has given themselves the power to tell us institutional histories? And how rooted in truth is an institutional history when it comes directly from the institution itself?

This event aims to illuminate the powerful history of student activism at Williams College, but it also aims to understand how Predominately White Institutions (PWIs) in the United States have used student activism as a marker of their own prestige and status. In this event, audience members will be invited to take a deeper look into what student activism has historically been, and how higher education institutions alter the meaning of student protest by using these historical moments to amplify and further their own institutional goals years after original events of activism. The event will speak to the history of moments such as the Hopkins Hall occupation in 1969, the Hunger Strikes of 1991 and 1993 for the formation of a Latina/o Studied program, the roots of Claiming Williams Day itself, and the 30+ years of student work which, this year, has led to the formation of an Asian-American Studies program. Additionally, this event will engage with current student activism on campus and ask how student leaders are regarded by the very institution they seek to change, the very institution that might someday use their work to bestow honor upon itself. By interviewing current students about how the work they have done, and how they have been regarded along the way, we get closer to honesty about institutional oppression and perpetuation of white supremacy.

Special Collections

3:45– 5 p.m. 

Paresky Auditorium