Racial inequalities.

White Privilege.

Black Lives Matter.

Colorism.

Racism.

Many of us heard these words over the summer. We may have even seen them in Instagram infographics or Twitter commentaries. We might have opened our Minerva emails to read them in institution-wide statements

Others of us have lived them. And we have all contributed to them. 

Wait, what does that mean?

Racism, colorism, sexism, ableism, classism, and any other -ism’s all inevitably manifest at Minerva. They intersect, weave themselves together, overlapping and diverging to create one immense, invisible, painful mess. Many individuals in our community have long contended with oppressive systems of one form or another. And even more individuals in our community have long perpetuated oppressive systems. 

And even more individuals in our community have long experienced and perpetuated oppressive systems, whether we know it or not.

Because relationships at Minerva start from scratch during Foundation Week, but socialization does not. When we entered Minerva, we entered with the oppressive systems of our prior socialization, with the problematic concepts of prejudice and privilege.

Prejudice and privilege are not merely concepts. Prejudice and privilege manifest themselves in our Minerva community. The -ism’s we condemn when we see them in the news are the same -ism’s we perpetuate in our Minerva community. 

But what do prejudice and privilege look like in Minerva’s community?

Well, we’re glad you asked, because that question is exactly what this Quest series seeks to explore through the personal narratives of Minerva students. Before we begin, we must ask, are you ready?

Are you ready to humble yourself enough to realize that you do not know what others have experienced?

Are you ready to listen to other people and learn from them?

Are you ready to admit that you have been part of the problem?

And are you ready to be part of the solution?

Because, ready or not, here we go:

An Ongoing Conversation at Minerva

If you’re new to this discussion, we’re excited you’re here! 

Prejudice, privilege, and discrimination is not a new topic for the Quest or the Minerva community. Recent events have brought it back to the forefront, but this conversation has slowly accumulated for years.

We recognize that who contributes to the Quest is heavily influenced by privilege, particularly of class and English language ability, a topic we aim to talk about more as part of this series. Consequently, published Quest pieces have also been shaped by these forces. We humbly recognize that even as the Quest gives a platform for voices against discrimination, the Quest has also perpetuated such systems. More recent initiatives such as our reward system for financially compensating writers as well as our continued openness towards publishing non-English pieces aim to address these shortcomings within the Quest.

As we renew this discussion of privilege and prejudice, we must not neglect the voices who have spoken up before, such as those speaking…

On Sexism…

As feminist as the Minerva institution and individual students try to be, sexism remains a very real problem amongst our community. From sexual assault to unrealistic beauty standards to gender broadly, multiple students have spoken out about privilege abuses of gender. These stories include…

On Racism…

For years, students have been publishing their concerns about and experience with racism at Minerva and among the Minerva community. Some of these personal narratives include…

This past June, the Quest covered Precedent, a Minerva event focused on racism, in this report by Emma Stiefel. Shortly before, three students voiced their concerns about Precedent in a series of articles:

On Classism…

Another form of privilege manifests in the way our Minerva community talks — or doesn’t talk — about finances, class, and money in general. Rebecca Mqamelo spearheaded this discussion with her article Broke, Different, and Never Heard

Since May, the Quest has published many student stories on the broad topic of financial aid. These profiles include…

This series is also ongoing with more profiles coming soon.

On Nationalism…

Inherently, nationalism involves the prejudices of one country against any or every other country. This particular manifestation of prejudice has been critiqued in multiple student works including…

On Ableism…

Extraordinary can come in many different forms, but even with Minerva’s promise to not discriminate disabilities, some students have still suffered from the lack of accommodations. Ableism, broadly defined as discriminating against people with disabilities and biasing towards able-bodied people, remains a major problem for some students. Some of these stories include… 

On Religion-ism…

For some students, religion is a major facet of their life but the Minerva community and institutional environment can foster religious discrimination. While this topic has not been discussed quite as much, an Anonymous Student shared their experiences in The Athiest Christian.

What about you?

This series is put together by Aspen Pflughoeft (M’22), Amulya Pilla (M’22), and Ibukunoluwa Aribilola (M’22).

If you would like to share your story, please contact one of us — Aspen Pflughoeft ([email protected]), Amulya Pilla ([email protected]), or Ibukun Aribilola ([email protected]). We recognize that we do not fully represent the Minerva student body, which is why we invite and encourage you to reach out to us with your personal experiences. 

If you are interested in writing a personal piece or a report for the Quest on this topic, we encourage you to apply to receive payment for your work in hopes of incentivizing more students to contribute and partially compensating those who do.

Want to help improve the Quest? Fill out our annual reader feedback survey!