Fri 2 Dec 2016
I hope this email finds you well, in the last weeks before winter break. For many of us, this semester has been an especially long one—I write to both offer encouragement and a last word of solidarity.
As many of you know, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and their allies are currently engaged in a struggle for water rights at Standing Rock, North Dakota. While many of us prepare for impending celebrations of heart and hearth, hundreds of water protectors persist in sub-zero temperatures and waning physical wellbeing, to ask the federal government and the corporate sponsors of the Dakota Access Pipeline to leave Sioux lands alone. This is a fight about water rights and sacred lands near Standing Rock, North Dakota, but more so, this is continuation of a centuries-old indigenous struggle for human rights. The Dakota Access Pipeline was rerouted through Standing Rock because Bismarck’s residents, who are 90% white, feared it would poison their drinking water. Indigenous people are being forced at gunpoint to accept ecological risks that North Dakota’s white residents refused. Furthermore, the pipeline cuts through Standing Rock sacred lands and passes over indigenous graves.
Last week, 167 water protectors were injured, including Sophia Wilansky ‘16, a Williams graduate, who is facing potential amputation. The United Nations is currently investigating North Dakota law enforcement for human rights abuses.
Williams students, past and present, have already travelled to Standing Rock to stand in solidarity with water protectors. Here on campus, Divest, the Davis Center, and the Zilkha Center (to name just a few) have organized donation drives and made phone calls to elected officials. They—and we—are working to educate each other about the violence occurring in North Dakota right now, as well as the centuries-long history of colonial violence against indigenous people in this country. We cannot forget that our very own Williams College was built on land stolen from the Mohican people.
Now I am asking you to take a stand. The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe is calling for influential organizations and individuals to stand with the water protectors, and we want to hear your voices. Please fill out this single question survey to let us know what you think: should Williams stand with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in their fight to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline?
Your voices matter. These responses will help us better understand the desires of the student body, and serve you accordingly. As the Williams College mission statement reminds us, “an education at Williams should not be regarded as a privilege destined to create further privilege, but as a privilege that creates opportunities to serve society at large, and imposes the responsibility to do so.” The engagement and collective care demonstrated by the Williams student body, faculty, and staff in response to recent events have been vital to our continued thriving together. I hope I speak for many when I say that I am both humbled and grateful to share in this community with you.
VP of Community and Diversity, 2015-16
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