By Emma Durgin
Seabury Hall, located at the center of Trinity College’s campus, is named after the first Episcopal Bishop of Connecticut, Samuel Seabury. Samuel Seabury became a member of high church tradition following his attendance at Yale University. Once becoming a political figure during the American Revolution, Samuel Seabury wrote “A Westchester Farmer” (1774), where Seabury asserted his loyalty to England through the continuation of trade with England. Essentially, Seabury supported and justified the enslavement of black men and women in order to allow the colonies to continue to be connected with England, who relied heavily on the Transatlantic slave trade. Furthermore, in his sermons, such as “A Discourse of Brotherly Love, Preached before the Honorable Fraternity of Free and Accepted Masons, Of Zion Lodge”(1777) and “A Sermon Preached Before the Grand Lodge and the Other Lodges of Ancient Freemasons”(1782), Seabury justified the enslavement of the black race through God, arguing that God created the white man to control the black race. Along with his own writings, Seabury, in 1783, was provided with a bill-of-sale for four slaves by his father-in-law. Hence, Seabury Hall honors a man that owned slaves and believed that slavery was normal and natural.
It is in my belief that Trinity College should create and implement a five-layered program for incoming first year students on race and diversity. The first part of this five-layered incoming students program should be a video. The video will discuss hate speech versus free speech on campus, altering students to what is acceptable speech and what Trinity College will not tolerate. The video should then be followed-up by a discussion. All first-year students must be required to attend the discussion in order to continue the conversation of hate speech versus free speech on Trinity’s campus. This meeting will allow new Trinity students to have an open discussion with their peers and professionals, creating further dialogue on campus and allowing for incoming students to develop a better understanding into Trinity college’s expectations for their next four years on campus. Next, the freshmen year and junior year writing assignment should be reflective of race and diversity in the world, and on Trinity’s campus. This will allow for students to be engaged in learning, as well as provide faculty with a means to evaluate both the views of the current class and assess the impact Trinity has had on students over the course of two years. This is a simple alteration to the already existent curriculum and thus, Trinity should be easily able to implement this change. The Watkinson must implement a section of the library dedicated to Trinity College and slavery. All first year seminars, no matter what the seminar is learning about, should be required to visit this section of the Watkinson. Finally, all students should be required to take a class regarding race and diversity. This is incredibly feasible as there are many courses offered regarding race and diversity on campus today. Through the establishment of a comprehensive first year program, Trinity will make race, class and racism a primary topic of discussion, allowing for impactful changes to be made on campus.
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