Last week, Jodi Shaw resigned from her faculty position at Smith College citing racism in the workplace. Her name may be unfamiliar to you, but her story rings too close to home in today’s political environment. Shaw argued that the culture among the faculty of Smith College was so radically left-leaning that her employment as someone who doesn’t buy into the Marxist racial theories du jour was simply too uncomfortable.
As a preface, I’m not a “Smithie.” Smith was my dream college in high school, however I ended up choosing Mount Holyoke College, a fellow Seven Sisters School and part of the Five College Consortium with Smith College. I’m sad to say that this is not surprising news. These schools have committed themselves to hyperbolic “anti-racism” which, in my opinion, is just racism under the guise of social justice.
Jodi’s story begins in 1993 when she graduated from Smith College only to return years later as a staff member. In videos, Jodi claims to have loved her job initially.
However, the school’s climate shifted on July 31, 2018, when a black student accused a white staff member of calling the campus police on her because of racial bias. This student posted pictures taken during the incident on Facebook and 3,000 users shared the post.
Before an investigation even began, the college issued a public apology to the student. They also fired the employee and announced that new initiatives, committees, workshops, training, and policies would be implemented to combat “systemic racism” on campus—even though the investigation found that the incident was not racially motivated at all.
Despite that, Smith kept its promises to dismantle the supposed racism pervading the western Massachusetts campus. This only furthered the narrative that the incident was racially motivated.
This toxic narrative had a profound impact on Jodi. She was informed that she couldn’t rap at a library orientation program in August of 2018 because, according to her supervisor, she was white, and that would be cultural appropriation. At the time, Jodi was up for a full-time position in the library, and the kitschy performance she prepared was her ticket to receiving it. But because she couldn’t entertain the students because of her skin color, Jodi did not receive the promotion, and she moved into her most recent position as Student Support Coordinator in the Department of Resident Life.
In her new position, Jodi was required to discuss her feelings about her skin color and participate in racially-prejudiced behavior to keep her job. She watched her supervisor diligently obey racial quotas for job openings. She watched her coworkers reduce students to their skin color as they projected rigid assumptions and stereotypes on the student body.
In January of 2020, Jodi’s patience had run dry when she attended a mandatory Residence Life staff retreat focused on racial issues. There, facilitators asked personal questions about race and racial identity, and when Jodi refused, citing that she was uncomfortable doing so, one of the facilitators publicly shamed her. In front of everyone, that facilitator said that Jodi’s discomfort was a symptom of white fragility, and she was performing a “power play.”
This incident prompted Jodi to file an internal complaint about the hostile environment. Her complaint sat in an inbox for six months. After waiting for half of a year, she was told that civil rights protections were meant to help people like her.
Jodi began talking with other faculty and staff members who told her that they were concerned with Smith’s initiatives but were too scared to speak out against them. Knowing that something had to be done, Jodi—who hadn’t achieved tenure—started a YouTube channel to speak out against the campus’s toxic ideology. Her first video was called “Dear Smith College: I Have A Few Requests.”
As a result, Jodi was placed on paid leave and has received tons of online hate from Smithies. Instead of standing by her side, Smith’s President, Kathleen McCartney, has continuously reassured her angry students that Jodi doesn’t speak for the college.
As a student watching from the sidelines, I think Jodi speaks for a significant amount of people on campus. Many on campus are sick of being reduced to their skin color or told that they have “privilege” just because of the pigment of their skin.
It’s a genuine privilege to go to an institution like Smith. Many students spend their secondary school careers dreaming of attending such a college. To see students from such a place of educational privilege rejoice at Jodi Shaw’s resignation is sickening. Their quest for political purity will, no doubt, result in more unneeded friction within the college.
It’s time to end this neo-racism, and I applaud Jodi for sticking up for herself at a progressive college like Smith. If she can stand up to a behemoth like Smith, anyone can. I hope Jodi becomes an inspiration, and Smith reconsiders the ideologies it’s promoting.
The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Lone Conservative staff.