WOC Members,

The Williams Outing Club Board is deeply angered by the murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, and the countless other black Americans who have been victims of racial violence and police brutality. We are reaching out to the community to express our full support for the Black Lives Matter movement and for the fight against systemic racism, which is inherent in our nation’s culture and institutions. We stand in solidarity with the people of color in WOC and the greater Williams community always, and especially during this time. We see you. We hear you. We know that’s not enough.

We have spent the last week discussing and deciding how to best use our resources and platform to take action, both in the short and in the long term.

The outdoors is an exclusive, racialized space that perpetuates systems of white imperialist patriarchy. WOC and the WOC Board are complicit in and reflect this pattern. While we actively seek to address this through our programming and efforts to fulfill our mission- “to support outdoor activities at Williams and to make the outdoors accessible to everyone, regardless of level of experience”— there is still so much work to be done. 

As the largest student organization on campus, we join other student groups to call on the College to financially support organizations which fight racism. We demand that the College be more transparent about its investments to be held accountable for their impacts. We also call upon the College to invest both financially and organizationally in The Davis Center and IWS to better support students of color. 

We are holding our organization responsible to use our resources and platform to combat racism. These are the first steps we are taking:

1. Each year, we allocate our Mountain Day T-Shirt profits to an organization we are passionate about and/or to our financial aid programs. This year we have decided to donate $800 to the Massachusetts Bail Fund for immediate, locally-focused action, $800 to the In Solidarity Project to improve accessibility in the outdoor community, and $800 to the Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice to target long-term, policy-oriented change. We are also committed to donating $500 to the In Solidarity Project annually for the next four years and to similar organizations that support diversity in the outdoors every year after that.

2. We are creating a Standing Committee for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion composed of members from both the Board and the broader campus community to spearhead our initiatives, conduct a thorough audit of our current practices, and advise the Board on ways to improve our organization. 

3. We will increase our focus on educational programs, such as film screenings and invited speakers, that challenge our notions of the outdoors and provide opportunities for members of the Williams community to become better informed about past and current patterns of exclusivity in the outdoors. 

4. In order to reinforce and improve WOC’s work supporting diversity in our programming, we will continue to work with MinCo, student groups, and the Davis Center to address the barriers to inclusion in the outdoors and to carve out safe and accessible spaces in the outdoors for minoritized folks.

We acknowledge that the steps listed above are just a starting point; overcoming the biases and prejudices that exist in the outdoors will continue to be part of our ongoing mission. We are still learning, and we encourage the WOC and Williams communities to engage with us in this process. 

In Solidarity,

The WOC Board

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