We Are Calvin [too]: Kathryn Knox

Photo by Anna Delph
Photo by Anna Delph

This story is a part of a larger series. A description of the purpose of the series can be found here.

Being a student of color here at Calvin has not been easy. I came to Calvin freshman year, from a predominantly white high school full of upper-class families who did not fully understand me, hoping for a place where I could fit in among my Christian brothers and sisters. Sadly, I found the opposite.

Living in the dorms freshman year, there were times when I honestly felt like I was an animal in a zoo. I was insignificant enough for some to easily ignore and exclude me from social life and intriguing enough to others that they couldn’t wait to ask the most insulting and ignorant questions possible to entertain themselves with my reactions and appease their curiosity.

In one instance, a minstrel-like drawing of a black man was put on one of the doors of my hall for sheer comedy without regard for the offensive history of these images. No action was taken. No one even batted an eye.

Aside from the ignorance that I encountered in my dorm, I experienced similar, if not more, examples of frustrating behavior and intolerance among the staff and professors in the classrooms. I had professors singling me out for my “non-traditional” views on things because of my different background; students stopping me after every class that had to deal with some aspect of race to express their sorrows for “being more privileged” than me; professors who were intolerant of my faith as a Pentecostal and made jokes to belittle our practices; and people in places of power at Calvin enforcing their views on issues of faith without any consideration of my own values as a non-CRC student.

Sadly, faculty and staff of color are in short supply at Calvin and are often in positions where they are strategically hidden from the public eye and cannot be beneficial and present for the students, or they are recycled and swapped around in diversity roles like the Multicultural Student Development Office (MSDO) or in Pre-College Programs with positions that involve recruiting minority students for Entrada.

Don’t misunderstand me; people of color in these positions are beneficial because they are good resources for AHANA students. However, this strategy deprives white students at Calvin from being able to engage with faculty and professors who have different backgrounds and stories to share that might aid in Calvin’s mission to make our community more culturally aware. If we continue in this cycle, we will never reach this goal.

This piece is only a snippet of the stories that I have to tell about the injustices I have experienced here. I love Calvin and I wouldn’t trade my experiences for anything. I could even say that I have experienced more good days than bad; however, my love for this school does not excuse or negate the fact that students in my position have to suffer injustices everyday based on a physical identifier. I am Kathryn, and I am Calvin too.

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