Mount Holyoke ‘Women of Color Trailblazers Leadership Conference’ to Feature Linda Sarsour

College edited announcement exclusively inviting those who 'self-identify as women of color'

Linda Sarsour
Linda Sarsour / Getty Images
• November 21, 2017 10:20 am


An announcement of a conference at Massachusetts' Mount Holyoke College has been edited to remove language exclusively inviting those who "self-identify as women of color" to register, following inquiries from the Washington Free Beacon about whether men and white women would be permitted entry.

The "Women of Color Trailblazers Leadership Conference," scheduled for April, will permit anyone, including white individuals, aged four and up interested in the program featuring keynote speakers Linda Sarsour, Tamika Mallory, and Carmen Perez, the cofounders of the national Women's March in Washington, D.C.

"While the conference is being held for and primarily organized by students of color—and more than 50% of our students are domestic students of color and/or international students—the entire community and public are encouraged to attend the conference and the keynote event," Keely Savoie, a Mount Holyoke spokesperson, told the Free Beacon in an email.

"The entire event has always been open to anyone who wants to attend, and there has always been a white ally on the planning committee," she added.

Themed "Empowerment through Engagement," the conference "is primarily student-run and student-fundraised," Savoie said.

The organizers are the Students of Color Committee—which acts as a liaison between students of color, the student government association, and the administration—and the Women of Color Task Force, made up of that same committee and "other advocates for women of color."

"Speaker fees were modest," according to Savoie, and funding was at least partially covered by the mandatory student activities fee, a $200 charge included in tuition and allocated by the student government.

Sarsour, who is passionately anti-Israel, has been widely criticized for remarks perceived as anti-Semitic. She has praised Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, said "nothing is creepier than Zionism," and has repeatedly lumped pro-Israel individuals together with white supremacist and neo-Nazis. Most recently, Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt knocked the New School in New York for hosting a panel discussion on modern anti-Semitism featuring Sarsour.

Mount Holyoke recently opened its search for its first-ever Chief Diversity Officer. The hire will have a seat on the college president's cabinet and work to "embed diversity and inclusion into Mount Holyoke's curriculum, infrastructure, policies, and programs in a bold and strategic way," according to the job listing.

The top administrative position will be responsible for steering the President's Initiative on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, launched in January 2017 in a hard push to augment the diversity profile of a campus that has been perceived as heavily white.

The position is expected to be filled by February or March.

Mount Holyoke is one of the country's historical women's colleges, known as the Seven Sisters, and was the first to begin admitting transgender women (all seven now do). Its admission guidelines explain that the school will also accept anyone born biologically female who identifies as male, female, both, or neither.

Published under: Linda Sarsour