#StandWithBennett: An Open Letter & Call to Action for Women’s Colleges by Acacia Salisbury

To Whom It May Concern,

I can still recall my senior year of high school when Sweet Briar, a women’s college in Virgina, was on the verge of closing. I remember the many different alumnae from not only Sweet Briar but other women’s college who rallied together to ensure that Sweet Briar students would have a place at other women’s colleges if they closed. I even donated to the $21 million dollar fund that eventually allowed Sweet Briar to keep its doors open. Most of all I remember when I arrive at Agnes Scott College, another women’s college in Decatur, Georgia with the Sweet Briar transfer students who entered Agnes the same year.

Now as a senior at Agnes Scott, I have to wonder where the same support is at for Bennett College, a women’s college in North Carolina. It is also an HBCU (historically black college/university). I wonder where the women’s colleges from all across the country- as well as their many alumnae who rallied around Sweet Briar- are when this historically black women’s college is struggling to raise $5 million to keep their accreditation.

I look at my own small women’s college and I think about how my first year marked 50 years since Gay Johnson Mcdougall, the first black student at Agnes Scott, stepped on to the campus. As I prepare to write poems for Agnes Scott’s 130th anniversary and founder’s day, I can’t help but think of how I, as a black woman, would not have been welcomed here all those years ago. I think about how I am the daughter and sister of every nameless woman who crawled so that I might soar at Agnes.

Before Mount Holyoke, Smith, Bryn Mawr, Mills, Scripps or any of the historically white women’s colleges said yes to black women, institutions such as Spelman and Bennett said “YES, there is a place for you here.” Bennett invested time in black women when so few institutions would. As my own institutions boast of its diverse student population let us not forget about the institutions who said yes first. Let’s not forget those who rose to the occasion and created spaces for black women in academia when we were not welcome anywhere else.

Every women’s college has a responsibility to rally around Bennett College in these times. This is a call for all of my Scotties and women’s college alumnae to step up and show the same support to Bennett College that we showed to Sweet Briar. Why? To say YES to Black women when we have historically said no so many times in the past. It is not lost on me how race plays a major role in the treatment of Sweet Briar vs Bennett. As a community of women’s college alumnae, we raised 21 million in 3 months for Sweet Briar. Bennett College needs 5 million by February 1st. Together, I believe it is doable. Let’s say Yes to Black Women. Let’s say Yes to Bennett. Let’s #StandWithBennett

Here is how you can donate:

MAIL A DONATION- If you would like to make a donation by check or money order, please make it payable to Bennett College, write “Stand for Bennett” in the memo line, and mail it to: Bennett College Attn: Institutional Advancement 900 E. Washington Street Greensboro, NC 27401

TEXT A DONATION- To make a quick and easy donation using your mobile device, text the word BELLES to 444999 and follow the instructions.

CASH APP DONATION- You can now donate on your mobile phone using the CashApp app! Simply direct your gift to $StandwithBennett. If you don’t have CashApp installed, you can find it in the app store.

ONLINE DONATION- To make a donation online, please visit www.bennett.edu/donate.

One Comment

  • Anthony Felder says:

    Amidst that climate of uncertainty, I too, did wonder where the support lied from my own institution, Morehouse College! Being literal sibling schools to each other, I was confused not seeing as much support come from the administration of Morehouse. Now that the situation is resolved, I am excited to see Bennett continue flourishing. I would just hope that in those dire situations more support will be shown, so that this problem can be solved quicker.

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