“I am looking forward to a variety of angles in which “Freedom of Speech” will be shown and expressed through the events this year.”
 

Q&A with Gabriel Rivas Orellana ’23

Why are you engaged with the Goldfarb Center?

I would like to introduce ideas to the Goldfarb Center that will help change the way we think about public affairs. I hope to create a pathway for LGBTQ+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and many more) and BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) students, activists, people, and scholars to have access and feel comfortable these spaces of privilege by bringing speakers who are asking the critical questions of how capitalism and colonialism have created a hostile environment for LGBTQ+ people and BIPOC to interact with predominantly white institutions like Colby, corporations, and even the United States government because of white supremacist practices. 

What do you think is the most interesting thing happening right now in public affairs?

The most vital thing in public affairs right now is holding corporations and government officials accountable for their actions whether that is through regulations or completely dismantling the current system as we know it. There is a need for these entities to understand the long-term harm to the rest of society, even if there are no immediate foreseeable impacts or they simply do not care, which is often the case. I believe it is very important for people living in extreme circumstances to work alongside their congressional officials on policies and have the final say because they are the ones that suffer the most from a detrimental policy. Time and time again, it is people who do not have the overall community’s best interest in mind who make these policies. In addition to this, Colby students need to understand and start viewing political decisions as a life-or-death situation because it is for someone in a rural or inner city. Be consistently aware and reflect on the privilege you have for being white. The government and economic theory made by the white man will affect someone’s lives in some part of the world and you should care about their life, just as much as you care about yours. Share the wealth.

What does leadership mean to you as someone on the Goldfarb Student Executive Board? 

Leadership to me means having the courage to question everything around you and take action. The state of the world right now is so convoluted, especially in the United States where polarization and differences in are being put in front of what is best for everyone. Visibility is such an important part of feeling comfortable and safe in a space like Colby, and right now it is very hard to come by, especially if the intentions aren’t 100% pure. I hope that I can help create a space where my fellow BIPOC/FLI (First-Generation Low Income) students and I can feel seen and heard through the events that are curated by the Goldfarb Center this year. 

Looking ahead, what are you most excited about for this year?

I am excited to listen to the speakers that will be brought to campus and continue the ongoing conversation of how we can take action to bring about institutional change that will benefit the marginalized community. At Colby there are funding opportunities to do so much, including organizing events and bringing speakers who can contribute to dialogues on accessibility, race, gender, socio-economic disparity, and wealth inequality. I look forward to helping shape and lead some of these events beyond the surface-level conversations that are too often the norm at Colby.