The Sophian Tweets the Inclusion Conference
Olivia Handoko ’21
On April 10, Smith held its first ever “Inclusion in Action” conference. Classes were cancelled and administrative offices were closed so that students, faculty and staff members could attend workshops, which were designed to try to foster open dialogue about issues facing marginalized students and to work towards creating a more inclusive environment.
To get a sense of what people were thinking about the conference, The Sophian tweeted student, faculty and staff reactions under the hashtag “scinclusion.” Attendees were also encouraged to share their tweets using the hashtag for the chance to be featured on The Sophian's Twitter page.
Some of the earlier tweets glimpsed into the event’s opening ceremony at John M. Green Hall:
Anthony Jack, author of “The Privileged Poor: How Elite Colleges Are Failing Disadvantaged Students,” began his speech by recognizing workers whose jobs “may seem invisible.”
With food trucks and informative workshops taking place at the “Inclusion in Action” conference, students and staff members expressed their hopes for the day and its impact on the college. One student said:
Towards the end of the day there was a protest at the Q&A session with the now-former Chief of Campus Police Daniel Hect. Over the past few weeks, the student bodies at both Smith and Mount Holyoke have protested the hiring of Chief Daniel Hect. The Sophian tweeted a response from a Smith student:
Students also used this day as an opportunity to voice their demands. Their frustration comes as a response to what they see as the failure of Smith’s administration to keep marginalized groups safe on campus. What was planned as a Q&A with Daniel Hect instead became a protest demanding his resignation. Leading this protest were students from marginalized communities voicing their experiences and disapproval with Hect’s tweets and the Smith administration. The Sophian managed to capture some responses during and after the protest:
Although Smith made a symbolic gesture by holding this conference, some students felt that it did not result in actual change. Others even felt that the day was an “illusion,” as seen in the tweet below:
As tensions rise over the administration’s failure to meet students’ demands, students from the Smith campus and across neighboring campuses are continuing to work with their schools’ administrations to implement changes. The day after the conference, students read a list of demands in front of John M. Greene Hall. As one staff member put it on the day of the Inclusion Conference:
There is still work to be done by both the students, faculty and administration of Smith. What has been presented by the student body is only the beginning of the process for real change to make students feel truly safe and included in all parts of their college experience.