One year ago today, a backpacker and self-described “student of life” came to Middlebury College. He stayed for one week, until he was forced to leave by five officers for making students uncomfortable. During his visit, he spent most of his time in town or in the library translating medical articles into his native Serbo-Croatian. He engaged everyone he met inquisitively, eager to listen, ask questions and share his own perspective.
Regardless of his actions that made others uncomfortable, he also stood out. He was immediately identified as an ”outsider” and suspiciously questioned by some staff and students. We must ask ourselves: why? Why did Luaay, a tall black man with dreads, stand out so much on our campus? After his removal, accusations abounded that he was homeless, an accusation not only false but fundamentally reflective of a classist worldview. Luaay could be removed but the prevailing ideology of xenophobia and judgments steeped in race and class remain.
Let us take this day to engage and grapple with issues of race and class on campus.
Let us reflect on the exclusion that is fundamental to our elitist education.
Let this be a day of reflection on Love, Understanding, Anti-racism, Anti-classism, and (the former) Yugoslavia. LUAAY.