Student Life, Student News

Highlighting BIPOC Experiences

Community Reading + Celebration

The evening of November 11 was momentous. A lineup of eight BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and people of color) students presented their work at a “Community Reading + Celebration” in the Student Center

“I am proud to say that we successfully threw an event that was carried and had a lineup of entirely BIPOC students,” said Taha Ahmar Qadeer ’25 who initiated the event.  

Among his many on-campus roles, Qadeer, who studies postcolonial and decolonial psychology and literature, interns for the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (ODEI).

ODEI interns are provided with an opportunity to submit a proposal and conduct a “passion project” each term. The Community Reading + Celebration was Qadeer’s. 

“The proposal itself was thoughtful, detailed, and inspiring,” said Rojay Bryan ’22, Diversity, Inclusion & Community Engagement Program Graduate Assistant, who works with Vice President for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Alfredo Medina Jr. Bryan saw how the project fulfilled the need for  “representation of queer BIPOC voices across campus, especially in this artistic form.” 

Beyond Bennington, Qadeer is a member of the r0ver magazine team. The publication is by, about, and for “Queer Creators of Color.” The “celebration” part of the Community Reading + Celebration commemorated the recent release of r0ver’s fifth issue. 

Thanks to support from the Bennington College’s ODEI, Qadeer was able to combine his roles as Bennington student, ODEI intern, and r0ver editor and contributor. And BIPOC creators were provided with an opportunity to share their voices. 

“I envisioned this event where BIPOC people could get together. I wanted a place where we could highlight people of color on campus, in a predominantly white institution. BIPOC voices are the ones that really speak to me and my humanity, and experiences.”  

Qadeer was impressed by the eagerness of those wanting to help plan and execute the event. Mia Jay-Pachirat ’25 designed the posters. Selassiei Jordan ’27 volunteered to take photos of the event. Koh Kozuro ’25 helped with lights and sound.

Posters by Mia Jay-Pachirat ’25
Posters by Mia Jay-Pachirat ’25

“The event flew into fruition, because people said ‘Yeah, I love that idea. Let’s do it,’” Qadeer shared.

While most issues of r0ver rely on students from several different colleges and universities, the fifth issue features several Bennington College students. Miracle Thornton ’25 wrote for the issue, and Maya Reinhold-Gatson ’25 and Ayana Sterling ’24 contributed photos. Filmmaker Juan Lopez ’24 was the subject of the cover interview, which Qadeer wrote.

The event line up included students featured in the magazine and others. They premiered two short films, including MY BODY IS AN OBJECT THE CAMERA IS A GUN by r0ver cover subject Juan Lopez and The inbetween by Mia Jay-Pachirat ’25. Simu Kaur ’27, Emerson X. Lee ’25, and Blu Mehari ’26 read poetry, flash fiction, and short stories. In addition, Qadeer read poems published in the latest issue of r0ver, and Thornton read her piece from the magazine.

Community Reading + Celebration

Koh Kozuru '25, Taha Ahmar Qadeer ’25, Mia Jay-Pachirat ’25

Koh Kozuru '25, Taha Ahmar Qadeer ’25, and Mia Jay-Pachirat ’25

Taha Ahmar Qadeer ’25

Taha Ahmar Qadeer ’25

Miracle Thornton ’25

Miracle Thornton ’25

Blu Mehari ’26

Blu Mehari ’26

Emerson X. Lee ’25

Emerson X. Lee ’25

Simu Kaur ’27

Simu Kaur ’27

“It was such a great space to be because everyone was in conversation,” Qadeer said. “We had visual arts. We had poems. We had flash fiction. 

“During the community reading, I was moved by the fabulous peer writers: Miracle, Emerson, Blu, and Taha, whose passion for the written word was incredibly inspiring,” said Kaur, who both read and attended. “It made me feel both challenged and excited. There is a lot to admire about student writers at Bennington—each with their own unique experiences and ways of processing the world around them.”

Qadeer added, “When you’re dealing with diasporic studies or minoritized groups, despite the differences in your sociopolitical identity, there’s so many points and intersections where you meet and understand each other in a way that people who are the status quo do not.”

“I was happy to see how many students turned up and supported the event,” said Bryan. “Seeing the joyful emotions on faces around the room was a solidifying moment.” 

ODEI covered the cost to print copies of the magazine to distribute around campus and at the event. Everyone who attended received a free copy. The website, r0vermag.com, has print issues available for purchase, and the digital version of each issue is free. 

“I am appreciative of the ability to collaborate with the DEI office to showcase BIPOC works,” Qadeer continued. “And I am so glad that more people on campus have a free copy.”  

Of the event, Kaur said, “In a diverse and eccentric space such as Bennington, BIPOC voices are both powerful and creative and seem to contribute immensely to the overall experience of being in an inclusive space.” She continued, “As someone who is shaped by diverse perspectives and thoughts, listening to and reading BIPOC voices allows me to re-imagine the literary canon as a writer of color.”

For more about r0ver, visit the website