Multiculuralism and the Search for the Perfect T-shirt
The two new staffers at Reed’s Multicultural Resource Center may not need much of an introduction. Santi Alston, the new Assistant Dean for Inclusion, Engagement, and Success, started working at Reed last June; Dayspring Mattole, the MRC’s Program Coordinator, joined him in October. Their presence over the past few months has been nearly everywhere on campus, from the Peer Mentor Program to frequent MRC events that address topics like privilege and sexuality. But there’s more to Alston and Mattole than may be apparent at MRC events.
Alston, who hails from Seattle, got his J.D. from the University of Oregon before deciding to come to Reed. “Halfway through law school, I realized that I would be happier working with college students than practicing law,” he explained. Intrigued by Reed, Alston kept a close watch on job opportunities at the college. “When I saw an opportunity here, I went for it,” he said.
Alston defined his job description as “promot[ing] student diversity and inclusion.” He described his mission, however, as being a little more complicated than that. “My mission is to give every member of our community opportunities to explore their multiple identities and the ways in which these identities intersect…I hope to help build a Reed community in which every member feels supported, respected, and accepted,” he said.
Alston added, no less seriously, “My additional mission, every single year that I’m at Reed, will be to create the finest, most luxurious, visually striking, and breathtaking Reedie t-shirt.”
Mattole, also a Seattleite, came to Reed last month from a job at Seattle Pacific University. As the MRC’s Program Coordinator, she has a fairly obvious job description. “[The MRC interns and I] try to do two or three events each semester that are fun, that engage with our mission to address topics like oppression, privilege, and intersections of social identity,” she said. Mattole is also in charge of the Peer Mentor Program, which pairs new Reedies with upperclassmen in order to ease their transition to college.
Mattole hopes to get more involved in the Reed community in order to fulfill this job description in the best way possible. “My mission here is to settle in and understand Reed, because I think so much of the work that I’m doing within multicultural affairs is about understanding and not making assumptions,” she explained.
But how does one address multicultural affairs on a campus not usually perceived to be multicultural? Mattole starts by dismissing that idea from the outset. “Perceptions can always be a little bit tricky. It can be dangerous,” she said. “There’s an assumption that everyone at Reed is from the same socioeconomic background, but that’s simply not the case.”
Privilege is a hot topic around Reed and in the MRC, and it’s something that Alston said he hopes to address too. Is there anything else he’d like to address?
“I’m a big fan of bocce ball—I consider it to be a form of meditation,” Alston answered. “It requires internal reflection, exploration, and close control of your breathing. It forces you to adapt to chaos.” Perhaps bocce ball, then, is the secret to achieving Alston and Mattole’s mission at Reed.