Microaggressions discussion vocalizes frustrations, concerns from minorities

Geneseo students overwhelmingly share a devotion to social justice and advancement. Part of creating a more inclusive campus community is hearing and learning from the experiences of others.

Students filled the Hunt Room in the MacVittie College Union on Friday Dec. 1 to vent and listen to each other’s accounts of microaggressions on- and off-campus in a discussion titled “Real Talk: How Microagressions and Stereotypes Impact our Communities.” 

A microaggression is defined as a comment or action that subtly and often unconsciously or unintentionally expresses a prejudiced attitude toward a member of a marginalized group, according to the event’s organizers.

The discussion was led by Programming Intern for Sustainability with the Department of Student Life senior Eunisha Tucker, who facilitated discussion among the audience. Tucker’s presentation began by defining the term microaggression. She then split the audience into two groups to discuss their experiences.

After the small group discussions, Tucker asked the audience to create a large circle with the chairs, which enabled a whole group discussion. Many students raised their hands and shared experiences with professors, peers and other college employees where they felt degraded based on their appearance, ethnicity or racial identity.

Biology major junior Chaukim Peters recalled an experience that occurred this October, prior to her departure for fall break. She was in a parking lot on-campus ready to leave for Albany to visit friends and she ran into one of her professors, who asked her where she was headed. Peters said she was visiting friends in Albany for the break and the professor asked her where home was. Before Peters could even answer, the professor automatically assumed and said, “The Bronx?” 

Incidents like this were brought up by dozens of students during the discussion and shed light on the injustices minorities experience on-campus frequently. Many students expressed their frustration with the college and the lack of action its employees tend to take when these situations are reported.

Tucker created the discussion as part of the social aspect of her internship and worked closely with Marketing Intern with the Department of Student Life senior Julia DePillo in order to effectively promote the event.  

“I wanted to basically create an event for people to come together and realize that there is a lot of diversity issues and biased-related incidents on-campus,” Tucker said. “I wanted an event for people to come out and get educated because I realized some people are just innocently ignorant.”

Among the audience were members of the African Student Union, Black Student Union, Chinese Culture Club, Caribbean Student Association, Latino Student Union and many resident assistants. 

“I reached out to organizations that are a part of ACE—the Alliance for Cultural Enrichment—and they reached back out to me and said they wanted to participate,” Tucker said. “I also have a lot of friends in the organizations because I used to be an ACE representative so they were very willing to help me out.” 

Unlike overtly racist or prejudiced remarks, microaggressions are usually unintentional and not malicious—but this event brought home the fact that many members of this campus community suffer from them regularly. 

For some students, this was an eye-opener. For many people who attended the event and who shared their personal experiences, however, it was an opportunity to voice their concerns and share their accounts with the student body.u

 Erie Hall bulletin board (pictured above), where a bias-related incident occurred in October 2017. “Real Talk: How Microaggressions and Stereotypes Impact our Communities” took place on Friday Dec. 1 to address how such events affect students in marginalized groups. (Ellayna Fredericks/Assoc. Photo Editor)

Erie Hall bulletin board (pictured above), where a bias-related incident occurred in October 2017. “Real Talk: How Microaggressions and Stereotypes Impact our Communities” took place on Friday Dec. 1 to address how such events affect students in marginalized groups. (Ellayna Fredericks/Assoc. Photo Editor)