Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Vol. CLIV, Issue 9
Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Self-Centered and Careless: Whitman’s Ugly Truth

To quote Michael Jackson, “all I want to say is that they don’t really care about us.”

Whitman College has shown students that their priority lies only with the image of the college. This trumps everything else, from simply listening to student demands all the way to the lives of tens of thousands of innocent people who have been murdered over the last 4 months. 

Over the course of last semester, we saw student voices across campus band together to show the college that we cannot stand for the horrifying treatment of Palestinians in Gaza following October 7th. Groups of students came together to craft divestment policies for many different parts of Whitman’s problematic investments. Senior Dante Filippetto (role in SJP) was involved in the creation of the now-defunct divestment proposal, and was willing to help me understand the process that went on in the aftermath of increased student involvement.

“We broke the divestment up into 3 projects: the endowment, off campus-studies, and ASWC/the Whitman Investment Club. Those projects are still continuing, even the endowment proposal which has been rejected. It’s not like SJP is done pushing for divestment,” said Filippetto.

This endowment divestment project has been in Whitman SJP’s plans since last year, starting in the 2023 spring semester. According to Filippetto, the divestment proposal was accelerated after the immense bombing which flattened Gaza and the involvement of the wide student population in protest. However, despite the large amount of student support for this divestment, after a long, frustrating wait, the board of trustees decided against approving the proposal.

“I am disheartened and infuriated, but not surprised,” Filippetto said. 

The rejection of this proposal went against the vast majority of our student population (the support from which has largely been ignored by the administration), but that is not the most sinister element of the board’s decision. 

“The rejection shows explicitly that [Whitman] does not think that the deaths of 30 thousand and the displacement of over 1 million Palestinians ‘shocks the conscience’,” said Filippetto. “That is way more important to me than whether or not they pass the proposal.” 

I always had the hope that at an institution where each member of our small student population pays such an exorbitant amount of tuition (higher than that of most Ivy League schools), our opinions and ideas would matter for the direction the college moves in. This rejection has completely destroyed any sense of this in my mind. If the college cannot listen to students whose families live in the occupied West Bank, and students who are courageous enough to expose the slaughtering and suffering of a people, then I don’t think that there will ever be a point where the college listens to student voices.

“There’s validity to the disappointment that the administration frankly doesn’t give a shit about how many students support this. They basically just said ‘we don’t care,’ y’know, ‘your voice doesn’t matter’,” Filippetto said. “If students do care that Palestinians are being slaughtered and massacred, they need to realize that Whitman doesn’t care that they think that.”

Whitman College is the most self centered, careless organization I have ever seen. We have actively supplied them with the knowledge that they are invested in companies that are deeply involved and profiting off of the genocide of a people, and the college’s first reason against divestment is that ‘it could be seen as antisemetic.’ For how much they promote the idea that we care and acknowledge that the land we stand on is the result of the displacement and slaughter of Native American peoples, they sure hate to take a stance against settler colonialism in action.

To translate [the rejection] to to the context of settler colonialism on this land is to say that Whitman acknowledges the suffering of Indigenous peoples but that investments which aid in or support the creation and sustainment of that suffering don’t actually materially support the activities (i.e. land theft and settler colonialism) which ‘contribute’ to their suffering. There is a denial of the very fact of settler colonialism, therefore the investment cannot shock the conscience,” said Filippetto.

Whitman College made a business decision in rejecting the student-made divestment proposal, rather than one that would promote any valuation of human life. They chose to save their own ass and dodge taking action on something that is considered to be a “messy subject” by the western world. In reality, there is nothing messy about calling  settler colonialism and genocide like it is. If an institution cannot afford to divest from the slaughtering of tens of thousands of innocent people and the displacement of millions, then maybe that institution doesn’t deserve to exist in the first place.

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