Joseph Abrams ’23
Chief News Editor
Four years ago, as the College grappled with faculty sexual assault allegations and a violent hate crime on campus, students, faculty, and staff came together to ask the pressing question: “Where do we go from here?” That collective, which was the first Engage Summit established by Father Boroughs and the Student Government Association (SGA), brought together members of the campus community for dozens of workshops and discussion sessions. In doing so, Holy Cross had the opportunity to heal together and find ways to move forward as a collective. Unfortunately, what had been a very successful Summit was not able to return for following years as the COVID-19 pandemic halted in person activities. With physical events slowly returning to where they once were, two members of SGA are working to bring it back.
This time, the lead up to the Summit, which is not yet planned, is becoming more interactive. Karen Phan ’25, the director of the ENGAGE Summit this year, is hoping to bring student perspectives to the forefront of the next rendition. Phan sees the construction of a “bridge for students to know that their concerns are heard and addressed on campus” as her responsibility as the ENGAGE director, and wishes to see the Summit become an inclusive opportunity for conversation among the campus community. That’s why, starting next week, Phan will hold in-person meetings with students for the rest of the semester. Here, students will be able to voice their school-related concerns and offer suggestions for the next Summit to Phan herself.
In 2018, the ENGAGE Summit was held in the week preceding Thanksgiving break, but under very different circumstances. Community concerns were at an all-time high, and the campus community came together to ask the College for much needed time to reflect. After a letter was sent from a collective of students, faculty, and alumni to the administration, an afternoon without classes or events was set aside for the first ENGAGE Summit. Here, workshops were held to gauge how administrative policies could help address some of the student concerns. The sessions, which were led by various student and faculty-led organizations, assessed the condition of LGBTQ+ and other minority communities on campus. Students were even encouraged to share their thoughts on on-campus discrimination with anonymous post-it notes placed around campus. Though attending the Summit was optional, attendance and engagement was strong, and students were left with the hope that it was just the beginning for on-campus change. The Summit even made it to the newsroom of the Boston Globe, where efforts to curb discrimination on campus made it into circulation. At a time when accountability was needed, it seemed that the campus community delivered.
So what’s next? As Phan conducts her student meetings, she’ll be assembling a student-led committee to help develop ENGAGE and act as an outlet for student concerns. For those of you who want to share your concerns through a more private medium, however, you can through a Google form in Phan’s Nov. 7 email.