This morning I showed up at the Board of Trustees meeting and made comments (in quotes below). I’m not an entirely trusting person, but I have a really good feeling about Dr. Dietz. I think he gets it. It was hard for me today. I wanted to cry and I was so afraid. I sat in a room with people I used to work with, people I respected and I couldn’t look them in the eye and they couldn’t look me in the eye. I get it. I was pretty brutal on this blog. I was angry. I was hurt I was trying to reclaim my voice which I felt had been taken from me, but I realized today it can’t be taken away, I made choices. Today I walked through a whole lot of fear and I spoke my truth and I spoke the truth for a few of my friends and former colleagues who have not yet found their voices. I have no regrets about anything that I said. I only pray that somehow, someway I made a small difference. I pray that truth and compassion will become part of education. I talk about my family in the first part of this speech. Illinois State taught me a lot of things…but it was my family…that grounded me in truth and compassion and maybe I didn’t get a degree today, but I got something better. Today I found out I am still here and that my truth is nothing to be ashamed of.
“Good Morning Illinois State University Board of Trustees, Leadership, and guests. My name is Angela Scott. I am a citizen of the State of Illinois.
- I want to start by thanking Illinois State University. I was a third-generation ISU employee. My grandmothers retired from ISU – one a janitor and one a cook. My parents retired from ISU, both building service workers. ISU has truly provided work to my family for three generations. I was the first to earn an informal education.
- At Illinois State University I learned about computer software, budgeting, organizational skills, politics, writing, and the importance of critical thinking and transferrable skills. I gained an appreciation for music and musicians. I learned about the difficulties of poverty through student theatre, composition papers and the homeless student who worked in and was let go from the Provost office.
- I learned to finesse words and numbers to say things that sounded good yet lacked enough detail to ever hold anyone accountable for the half-truths and ultimately lies that they are. I learned to hide millions of dollars from students, employees and the general public while pretending there was nothing.
- I learned to be quiet or lose my job as after witnessing an administrator tell a student reporting sexual victimization by a faculty member that if she pursued the filing her life would be difficult and I saw first-hand that the administrator was correct as a positive recommendation for that faculty member was sent on to another university.
- I learned to say key phrases to impress donors and leadership. I learned that it is ok to be racist or homophobic if you do it in private with people who you think, because of their race or religion or sexual orientation, are like minded. I learned that laws do not apply to important people.
- But the biggest, most horrifying lesson I learned was that an individual unable to pay for a 4 year degree in a system rigged to perpetuate inequality and oppress anyone who questioned it, does not have the same freedom as an individual who could pay for that 4 year degree. If you don’t believe me check out the well written guest commentaries in the Pantagraph written by ISU leadership. Somehow by the benefit of Tenure they not only receive funding from tax payers (educated or not), they are uninhibited by fear of losing a job, and they get to be heard. Which, until today, was not an option at an Illinois State University Board of Trustees meeting.
- The Board of Trustees and Leadership have power. You have the resources and ability to change higher education. You can begin to remove the hurdles of oppression and deceit that are part of the fiber at Illinois State University and within higher education.
- Listen to individuals who are different. Instead of convening a meeting of well paid professional individuals with PhD’s to figure out why enrollment is down, convene focus groups of individuals who came and did not finish. Listen to the reason why the task was insurmountable.
- Listen to individuals who want to come, but because of financial hardships or lack of family support will not be attending ISU.
- Instead of hiring the administrator’s children to work in leadership offices, hire them to work in kitchens with students receiving work study allowing them to become aware of the struggles of their fellow students. Instead of hiring students who are friends and family of the administrators for the easy office jobs, intentionally hire students that are at the most risk of not making it through their first year of college so that the members in leadership begin to see first-hand the very real struggles of students who are not like them.
- Do not allow faculty members who scream about their expertise in the study of sociology to take up residence in your mind and ignore the experience and expertise of students, faculty and staff who have studied, up close and personal, poverty and hardship for their entire lives.
- Do not brag about diversity, yet fail to provide it to our students, faculty and staff.
- When underrepresented students, faculty or staff report racism, sexism, sexual assault, illegal treatment, unethical behavior or express to you their very real fears – listen to them, do not marginalize them.
- Use the resources at your disposal to meet these challenges rather than hide them. You are powerful.
- You have a freedom with that power, a freedom that I and many others do not know and I am here today asking you to share that freedom with everyone in this community.”