An Unfinished MOSAIC: Yale First Years Speak Out

Can white people feel proud of being white? In the Silliman College MOSAIC Camp Yale activity, students had to move to a poster with a phrase or word that resonated most with the statement made.  These statements were supposed to cover a range of experiences that impacted students at Yale. Whenever race was discussed, most white students avoided the Race poster and gathered at the Ability poster. Even within the white community certain peers felt alienated. “I am white, but I didn’t fit the typical white stereotype at Yale,” Chloe Zimmerman DP ’19.  Even within the white community, white privilege only exists if you meet the proper criteria.

People of color felt especially alienated during the MOSAIC activity.  Some students felt that the activity tried to categorize them into a certain label. “I will not be your token minority,” Mairead Brennan PC ’19.  Another student added,“I felt uncomfortable during the MOSAIC activity.  I felt like the token poor student,” Patrick Hong CC ‘19.

At the time it is important to note that some students did not feel like many of the statements resonated with them.  “Yale has a history of being a place where white people who are economically advantaged are able to express themselves more freely, but it is important to recognize that students struggle with a variety of issues such as abusive families, self-identity crises, family addiction, and these struggles do not fit into the buzzwords that were prevalent in the Silliman exercise.  I do not know if we could have delved in more, but there were certain issues that were excluded from the typical buzzwords,” Marie Claire, SM ’19.

Other students felt saddened and angered by the results of MOSAIC.  “I cried during the MOSAIC activity. I cried when I saw the majority of girls move when sexual harassment was mentioned.  I wanted to punch the assholes who were on their phones during the activity when sexual assault is such an important issue that needs to be discussed,” Elaine Lou, DC ‘19.

The goal of MOSAIC was a complicated one,  as Linette Rivera JE ‘19 commented, “I feel like they wanted to show how we are similar to our peers in the sense that there will always be someone there that is living through the same question.  At the same time, many of us became painfully aware of how much of a minority we really are.”

It is difficult to say what a person should take away from MOSAIC,  but I can I tell you what I took away:  I understand that no one is perfect and that we are all troubled about some aspect of our lives, whether it be race, socioeconomic standing, sexuality, self-identity, family relations, and the list goes on.  At the same time, I understand that I am not alone.  It is often easy to overlook this common truth and isolate yourself but you shouldn’t.  There are other people who share the exact same struggles and even though the MOSAIC activity was poorly executed, it still reminded me that I don’t have to face them alone.

by Arturo Pineda