On May 25th the UW Daily Editorial Board published the article, “HUB Remodel Good; ECC Remodel, not so much.” Wanting to raise questions about the HUB Remodel and the ECC Construction Project, they asked why the two are not being merged into one centralized space, but the way they approached this question upset many who use and love the ECC.
The article blamed the ECC community for the separation. Also, the article’s choice of words such as “segregation,” “integration,” and “Us versus Them” dug up this country’s horrible past and very real present about race relations. Ever so slightly, it was referencing the Jim Crow laws that once governed people’s lives and paralleled them with ECC students “willingly segregating themselves.” Whether they meant to or not, the article came very close to calling the ECC “segregationists” and reopened that deep wound that marginalized people, and generations before them, have been trying to heal.
Following the heated commentary on the Daily’s website, Kayla Huddleston, ASUW Black Student Commission Director, invited people from across campus to dialogue about the article. On June 4, 2010, the ECC, and its allies representing the Q center, the Women’s Center, and ASUW Commissions told the editorial board that their concerns were valid, but blaming the ECC community for the separation was extremely offending. The editorial board heard us out, and was very apologetic for the article. They had no intention of blaming the ECC community. They also thanked us for bringing it to their attention or else they wouldn’t have known the damaging effect of their article. To them, the world is moving forward, becoming more “integrated.” Race and other prejudices are a thing of the past. So, it would make sense to write these things and not see the problem within. But it is these kinds of “harmless” words and thoughts that “kindly” remind marginalized people that they have a long way to go before reaching equality.
The question they should have addressed was: why are the ECC and the HUB staying in separate buildings? Well, there is a long and complicated history there. In short, even though it is relatively new, the current ECC building is a historic site. When we think about the events of the late 1960s that led to the ECC’s birth, the building and the ground it rests on are historic and full of spirit — and continue to be so to students who use the space. So, of course it would be hard to see the ECC move, especially to a building that has not been welcoming to marginalized students in the past. This brings another point: the fear of being part of the HUB points to the larger issue that many students still do not feel welcome or “at home” in the HUB, or on the UW campus.
Would putting the ECC inside the HUB really bring unity to the UW campus community? That is a question for all to consider. Many of us can see the benefits of centralizing student-life organizations, but as someone pointed out, there can also exist many centers on campus simultaneously doing their individual work and working towards a greater whole to unify the UW campus community.
We commend the editorial board for speaking with us, and being open to our thoughts and criticisms. It is a very brave thing to do. It is important that those who come from different life experiences listen and challenge their own thinking to better understand others. This is how we build allies and how we build a unified community.
By the ECC Construction Project Team