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Some students at Williams College have called for a boycott of the English department because of the "racist violence" faced by women of color who have had the misfortune of studying and teaching there.
"We are receiving an inadequate education from the English Department that not only hinders our learning but also enables the Department's racist culture," write the boycott's leaders. "We are undergoing this boycott to create the pressure necessary to force the Department, and the Administration, to take these issues seriously and to redress past and current harm with urgency."
A website lists the activists' grievances, which are largely directed at Kathryn Kent, chair of the English program. Students believe Kent should have resigned after having the audacity to argue with another professor, Dorothy Wang. Wang had confronted Kent last April about the chair's failure to hold meetings that would address the department's "longstanding history of hostility toward faculty of color," according to The Williams Record. This irritated Kent, who snapped that Wang didn't know what she was talking about. Two Wang-sympathetic students who witnessed the incident told the paper they feared for her safety, and their own:
Kasulis, Wang and Zheng described the incident as emotionally harmful. "This is something that none of us are going to forget happened, and for a week afterward I would wake up in the middle of the night and think of it," said Kasulis, who reported that she was physically shaking throughout the incident.
According to the students, the incident confirmed what they felt were longstanding issues within the English department and a departmental culture of intimidation, fear, racism and disrespect toward FoC [faculty of color], and in particular FoC who specialize in academic fields relating to minority literature and other underrepresented disciplines.
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