As a historically women’s college and a predominantly white institution, Smith College has certainly had its fair share of internal conflicts, missteps, and campus-wide rifts. Incidents of racism, homophobia, and classism have pervaded Smith for as long as it has existed, with both the administration and the student body perpetrating and enforcing oppression in these demographics since the 19th century. In spite of its liberal leanings, the neoliberal-capitalist trappings of private colleges and the insidious presence of racism within higher education have both contributed to a variety of incidents that have served to make various minority groups at Smith feel either unsafe or unwelcome.
All colleges have scandals and systematic dysfunctions, however, and one of the best ways to judge a school is not by its issues, but by how it responds to those issues once they are brought to light by concerned members of the community. The readiness of Smith students to jump into action upon learning of injustices being committed against particular members of the Smith community belie a deep compassion and empathy for others that lies at the root of what draws so many people to Smith in the first place. While Smith will likely continue to grapple with these and other issues for the entirety of its existence, so long as Smith students continue to show empathy and care for one another, no single incident or conflict needs to cause an irreparable rift among the community.