New Student Group Highlights Students of Color in Sciences

Andrea Schmid '17 Contributing Writer

New student organization Students of Color in the Sciences held its first meeting on campus this Saturday. Planned by Blythe Coleman-Mumford ’17, the event saw a small but productive turnout.

“We covered a lot of ground on why creating a space for students of color in the sciences is so important,” Coleman-Mumford, an environmental science and policy major, said. Indeed, from architecture to environmental design, there was a unanimous distaste for the lack of diversity that prevails in the academic spaces of scientific fields and activism throughout the five colleges.

Coleman-Mumford added, “I didn’t really come here with a specific agenda, I just wanted create something, club or not, where we could share information and ideas to make-up for the lacking presence of POC [people of color] perspectives that we experience in our academic spheres.”

Among the conversations at the meeting were stories and examples of moments where students felt a lack presence of students of color among their peers and teachers. One student shared a story about a time when someone told her that as a woman of color, majoring in environmental science and policy was wrong, and that there were more important fields that were more relevant to her identity that needed more women in them, such as gender studies or government. Wandy Pascoal, an architecture major from University of Massachusetts, spoke about the problematic ways that some professors approached and taught gentrification in areas like Springfield. The group made basic plans to start a newsletter. While orgs like this one often use Facebook and other social media sites for organizing meetings and events, the members agreed on the importance of creating a physical space for the sharing of ideas relevant to the group.

The meeting was extended when attendees decided to visit the Botanic Gardens. Conversation about the variety and beauty of the flora and the serenity of the greenhouse made everyone in the group agree that the group had to share more moments like this together.

On Sunday, Coleman-Mumford sent out an official group invite on Facebook, titled “Five College POC in the Sciences and Related Sustainability Initiatives.” The group’s description ended with this: “This is a space to share events, news items, ideas, questions, etc. in an attempt to create a sense of solidarity among these students of color who may find themselves a minority in their classes, and who may struggle to find a place in which their identity in the sciences is represented and respected.”