College to host Linda Sarsour at 'women of color' conference

Toni Airaksinen
New York Campus Correspondent

  • Mount Holyoke College will host a leadership conference next semester exclusively for “women of color,” featuring known anti-Zionist Linda Sarsour.
  • Sarsour, who was among the organizers of the Women's March on Washington, D.C. earlier this year, has a history of inflammatory statements about Israel, leading some to accuse her of preaching anti-Semitism.
  • Linda Sarsour

    Mount Holyoke College will host a leadership conference next semester exclusively for “women of color,” featuring known anti-Zionist Linda Sarsour.  

    Sarsour, one of several leaders behind the record-setting Women’s March in Washington D.C., allegedly supports the implementation of Sharia Law, endorsed the throwing of rocks at Israeli cars, and even called Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu “a waste of a human being.”

    "If students do not show up and claim space, they are making a choice and sending a message that they don’t need it."   

    [RELATED: Sharia supporter to give commencement for CUNY Public Health]

    The 2018 Women of Color Trailblazers Leadership Conference will be open to students and community members and will ultimately “provide a space to celebrate the lives and accomplishments of women of color.”

    The conference will be keynoted by the founders of the anti-Trump Women’s March, including Tamika Mallory, Carmen Perez, and Sarsour, a frequent critic of Israel whom many people consider to be anti-Semitic.

    In the spirit of inclusivity, the event is open to “all individuals (from ages 4 and up) who self- identify as women of color,” according to its event page. No men of color, nor white women, will be permitted to attend.

    [RELATED: NC State admin proposes exclusive housing for ‘women of color’]

    Tayllor L. Johnson, a 2015 Mount Holyoke graduate, praised the conference in an interview with Campus Reform. Johnson attended the 2015 conference during her senior year, and returned to last year’s conference as a workshop facilitator.

    “As a woman of color attending a PWI—Predominantly White Institution—I felt that it important for me to show up and participate—take up space and show up for myself and other WOC looking to connect,” she told Campus Reform.

    Although Johnson is happy the school has turned the conference into an annual tradition, she also said it is important that students actually attend, warning that “if students do not show up and claim space, they are making a choice and sending a message that they don’t need it.”

    [RELATED: College awarded $1.2 mil for ‘women of color’ activists]

    The event will also feature a “POC Business Expo,” dedicated to promoting businesses and organizations led by people of color.

    In a statement to Campus Reform, Mount Holyoke College spokesperson Keely Savoie defended the decision to make the conference open to women of color only, explaining that students of color “are not a small portion of our campus community,” and that “more than 50% of our students are students of color or international.”

    Savoie also noted that the school itself does not fund the conference, but rather that the Mount Holyoke Students of Color Committee fundraised for the cost of the conference. When asked how the students managed to raise the thousands of dollars needed for the conference, Savoie did not reply.

    Savoie also did not reply to a follow up inquiry asking if the money for the conference actually came out of the Student Government’s general operating budget, of which the Students of Color Committee is part. All students must pay $200 per year to help fund the Student Government, according to the 2017-2018 tuition schedule.

    The conference aims to “open dialogues and raise consciousness about issues and intersections prevalent in modern day society regarding race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, and many more identities.”

    Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @Toni Airaksinen





    Toni Airaksinen

    Toni Airaksinen

    New York Campus Correspondent
    Toni Airaksinen is a New York Campus Correspondent, where she reports on free speech issues and social justice research. She is a senior at Barnard College, majoring in Urban Studies and Environmental Science. She is also a columnist for PJ Media, and formerly held a post with USA TODAY College, The Columbia Spectator, and Quillette.
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