Student Activists from Dwight Hall Member Groups Protest in Washington, DC

From October 29 to October 31, 2022, a coalition of 40 student activists from two Dwight Hall member groups–the Black Student Alliance at Yale (BSAY) and Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlán de Yale (MEChA)–the Native and Indigenous Student Association at Yale (NISAY), and the Asian American Students Alliance (AASA) traveled to Washington, DC to protest at the steps of the Supreme Court. The students demanded the continued use of race-conscious admissions in colleges and universities, a practice that is threatened by lawsuits against Harvard and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, which allege that race-conscious policies harm Asian American students. Supporters, including the Yale coalition, argue that race-conscious admissions allows for universities to consider the entire story of an applicant, and redress the racial inequity that plagues students of the K-12 education system.

The students were joined by groups from across the country, including lawyers and civil rights groups, as well as student delegations from Harvard, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Georgetown, Princeton and other schools from the East Coast. Momona Hadish ’25, one of the co-chairs of social justice at BSAY, emphasized the importance of Yale students coming together to fight for marginalized groups. “We want to use our voice to help ensure that access to education doesn’t reflect and/or exacerbate the barriers to opportunity that already exist for people of color in this country,” Momona said.

Tony Ruan ’25, a political co-chair for AASA, concedes that the odds look grim for the cases, with the Court ruled by a conservative majority that experts believe will rule against the universities. Nevertheless, he emphasizes that the trip was critical to uniting Yale students and sending a message. “It’s not like we believed that this would change the outcome [of the case],” Tony said. “It was largely a question of, do we want to be there? Do we want our presence to communicate anything? And I think all four cultural groups can conclude that yes, it’s important that all of us be there. And so I think, more than anything, it was a vehicle for mobilization.”

In addition to protesting, the trip also presented an opportunity for the four groups, who have a long history of organizing together, to grow their ties to one another. Tony believes the trip was important in demonstrating a type of racial solidarity that acknowledges the interconnected nature of different racial groups. And beyond political and organizing ties, students said they bonded over trivia nights, meals together, and long conversations on the bus ride to and from DC. The solidarity demonstrated by the students on the steps of the Court extends to friendships and deep personal connections as well.

Moving forward, the four groups hope to continue to strengthen the bonds they have made as activists and as friends. Momona hopes that the trip is the beginning of more work between the groups. “We hope that our organizing…continues to set a precedent of dialogue, activism, and collaboration between cultural organizations on campus.”

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