'Claiming Williams Day' Aims to Foster Inclusivity, Equality

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WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — Williams College will hold its annual "Claiming Williams Day" on Thursday, Feb. 1, with events throughout the day that encourage discussions about inclusivity and inequality.

While most of the events are only for the Williams College community, three events are open to the public: Authors and social justice advocates Julissa Arce and Janet Mock will give the morning and evening keynote addresses; Arce will speak at 10:45 a.m. in Chapin Hall, and Mock will speak at 7:30 p.m. in Chapin Hall. Mock's address will be simulcast into Brooks-Rogers Auditorium. The public is also invited to participate in "Missing Books, Missing Voices," which will take place in Sawyer Library from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.

"Missing Books, Missing Voices" enables the community to identify what is missing in the library collection and help fill those gaps. On Claiming Williams Day, the new books section of both Schow and Sawyer libraries will be emptied and replaced with blank books, magazines and DVD cases. Participants may write a title, topic or area that they believe is missing from the collection. The library plans to incorporate as many suggestions as possible into the collection. In addition, the library will devote a spring Tuesday Tea to a panel of students, faculty, and librarians who will discuss what they learned and how the libraries can best reflect the diversity and difference of Williams.

Arce is a writer, CNBC contributor, and advocate for immigrant rights and education. Arce immigrated to America from Mexico at the age of 11 and was undocumented for almost 15 years. She eventually rose to prominence on Wall Street, working for Goldman Sachs and Merrill Lynch. Arce was officially sworn in as an American citizen in August 2014. In September 2016, she released her memoir, "My (Underground) American Dream." In order to help other young people in similar circumstances, Arce co-founded the Ascend Educational Fund, a college scholarship and mentorship program for immigrant students, regardless of their status, ethnicity, or national origin. She is also a board member for the National Immigration Law Center and College Spring. Arce is the former Director of Public Affairs at Define American, a media organization that uses the power of story to change the narrative surrounding immigration and citizenship.

Mock is a writer, TV host and advocate whose memoir "Redefining Realness" broke ground as the first biography written from the perspective of a trans girl. Her second book, "Surpassing Certainty," a memoir about her 20s, was released in June 2017. Mock is an advocate for trans women, the host of the interview podcast, Never Before, with Lenny Letter, and a contributing editor at Allure, where she writes the column, "Beauty Beyond Binaries." Born in Hawaii, Mock's story of growing up trans caught the nation's attention in a 2011 Marie Claire article. Since then she has become one of the most influential trans women and millennial leaders in media. She will be in conversation with Kai Green, assistant professor of women's, gender and sexuality studies.

Claiming Williams invites the community to acknowledge and understand the uncomfortable reality that not all students, staff and faculty can equally "claim" Williams. By challenging the effects of the college’s history of inequality that are based on privileges of class, race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and religion, we can provoke individual, institutional and cultural change.

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