Jodi Shaw used to be a student support adviser at the Massachusetts college without recently addressed a resignation letter to its leadership insisting that the environment left her “physically and mentally debilitated.”
“I can no longer work in this environment, nor can I remain silent about a matter so central to basic human dignity and freedom,” stated the letter, published by columnist Bari Weiss.
Smith College didn’t respond to a request for comment.
An alumna of the private liberal arts institution, Shaw announced the culture had changed strenuously after a 2018 incident when a black student blamed a white staffer of racism for calling campus security on her. An investigation revealed no evidence of racial prejudice, though the college established a list of initiatives aimed at fighting “systemic racism” on campus.
Yet the ideology driving the applications seemed more concerned with inflaming anti-white attitudes rather than mitigating any form of racism, based on Shaw’s account.
“I endured racially hostile comments, and was expected to participate in racially prejudicial behavior as a continued condition of my employment. I endured meetings in which another staff member violently banged his fist on the table, chanting ‘Rich, white women! Rich, white women!’ in reference to Smith alumnae. I listened to my supervisor openly name preferred racial quotas for job openings in our department. I was given supplemental literature in which the world’s population was reduced to two categories—’dominant group members’ and ‘subordinated group members’—based solely on characteristics like race,” Shaw’s letter states.
“Every day, I watch my colleagues manage student conflict through the lens of race, projecting rigid assumptions and stereotypes on students, thereby reducing them to the color of their skin. I am asked to do the same, as well as to support a curriculum for students that teaches them to project those same stereotypes and assumptions onto themselves and others. I believe such a curriculum is dehumanizing, prevents authentic connection, and undermines the moral agency of young people who are just beginning to find their way in the world.”
She explained that other employees she spoke to were “deeply troubled” by the developments though were “too terrified to speak out about it.”
In January 2020, Shaw said, she attended a mandatory staff retreat “focused on racial issues.”
She explained she wasn’t comfortable answering personal questions from the hired facilitator regarding race and “racial identity.”
“Later, the facilitators told everyone present that a white person’s discomfort at discussing their race is a symptom of ‘white fragility.’ They said that the white person may seem like they are in distress but that it is actually a ‘power play,’” she wrote.