ROCKET: What is your response to the celebration for the 100 years of women?
Olivia Leon Vitervo: It’s great that we are celebrating 100 years of women on W&M campus, but even within this celebration we are excluding narratives that are not the majority, white. We have failed to realize that it’s only been the accomplishment of white women that we celebrate and examine why that is so. Nowhere was there a mention of women of color and their contributions to W&M. Also, more importantly even present day at this year’s 100 years of women’s weekend excluded voices by making only accessible to certain women [rich and white] by having the cost of admission at $200. Yet, organizers stated that they wanted student’s input on a conversation about diversity. To them I ask, why should I have to pay for you to listen to my concerns about issues that directly affect me?
R: What still needs to change in the way William & Mary prioritizes/supports women, especially WOC?
OLV: For a starter, there is needs to be more faculty of color. There is a burden that the few faculty of color that we do have face having to mentor for multiple students because they are the only one. It is sad that there are few tenured faculty of color. As a student of color, it shows how much we valued at our own college. That our university does not care enough to have people that look like us teaching for long term, only ever temporary. But at the sometime, it should not solely fall on our faculty of color to be mentors for students! Our faculty as a whole needs to understand their student body and learn how to be helpful. This involves becoming aware of how their student’s race, gender and socioeconomic status has influenced their life and thinking.There also needs to be more representation of women in STEM departments. There is few mentions in both courses and departments about the contributions of women in the field. This make it hard for women to see themselves able to succeed in that field.
R: What are some things you do on campus that you think make the environment a more inclusive one?
OLV: UndocuTribe has been a huge part of my years at W&M. It was started because we saw that our campus needed to be more inclusive and welcoming of immigrant, in particular, undocumented students on our campus. We have put on ourselves to give UndocuAlly training for our fellow students so they can learn about the complex legislations that affect the undocumented community more importantly how how they can be allies.