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Students demand that curriculum decentralize whiteness, focus on systems of oppression like capitalism

They say that education is a lifelong process, and one thing we’ve learned recently is that students apparently put no effort whatsoever into researching the colleges to which they apply, accept entrance and present with tuition checks, leaving it to them to fundamentally transform these hotbeds of rape and racism from the inside. Either that, or they were sold a bill of goods, as they claimed in a letter to the school’s president.


Irresponsible reporting is one of our favorite topics, so color us intrigued.

On May 13, a call was put out to Seattle media outlets asking why there was no coverage of the student occupation at Seattle University, in protest of the Matteo Ricci College’s Eurocentric curriculum and its lack of diversity among the faculty.


Seattle newspaper The Stranger picked up on the story, citing the students’ demands, which include a curriculum that:

Decentralizes Whiteness and has a critical focus on the evolution of systems of oppression such as racism, capitalism, colonialism, etc., highlighting the art, histories, theologies, political philosophies, and socio-cultural transformation of Western and non-Western societies.


Capitalism has no place at Seattle University, which its website indicates charges an annual full-time tuition of around $40,000.

The demands, along with house rules to transform the previously violent space into a celebratory one for trans folx, womxn of color, and other groups in need of healing, were posted over the windows.

The Washington Times picked up on the demand for coverage after an unnamed student told a sympathetic university president that she had broken down after a meeting with Dean Jodi Kelly, who reportedly used the n-word in suggesting that a student read comedian and civil rights activist Dick Gregory’s autobiography, the title of which is simply … the n-word.

According to The Stranger, the student stopped going to class after hearing “the full word” several times.

An African-American student at the college spoke in response. She said she met last spring with Kelly to ask for a more diverse, culturally responsive curriculum. In response, Kelly “used the n-word… she said it three or four times. The full word.”

In the student’s telling, Dean Kelly said the student could reclaim the word if she wanted to, citing a black comedian’s comments.

The student said she broke down after her meeting with the dean.

“I did not go to class,” she said to Sundborg and the assembled protesters. “That word still hurts… It is not her place to tell me not to be offended. This woman needs to be removed. I’m worried about the students that come after me.”


President Stephen Sundborg reportedly praised students for their activism but advised them against demanding Kelly’s resignation, explaining that such a demand “sets up an opposition.”

That entreaty was made last Friday, but didn’t move the students, whose occupation continues and who posted a letter to Sundborg on Facebook Monday, which reads in part:

We are hungry for learning that is decolonized, critical, and transformative; we deserve this. Seattle University was sold to us as a university committed to social justice; Matteo Ricci College was sold to us as a college that was forward-thinking and innovative. These institutions have failed us, and the administration has publicly acknowledged their failure.

Matteo Ricci College is graduating students who are illiterate in critical consciousness. Queer students, womxn of color, people of color, people with disabilities, and the intersection of all those identities are not receiving curriculum that is relevant to their liberation and that reflects their lived experiences and histories. Instead, they are silenced within the classroom, often dismissed as aggressive and emotional when advocating for themselves. White students are being taught to recycle the same normative ways of being, without a critical analysis of white supremacy and its harm to all.


A press conference is scheduled for Tuesday.

* * *


Editor’s note: “May” mistakenly came out as March in the original post and has been corrected. We apologize for the error.


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