“See our Truths”: BIPOC students and alumni push for change and healing at University



Alexandra Puga, Executive Editor

On Aug. 3, an Instagram account under the name @seeourtruths was created as a platform for BIPOC alumni and current students to share their experiences within the University’s Musical Theatre program.

Their bio reads, “We are here to share individual and collective truths in order to build community, heal through connection, and dismantle oppression in all of its forms.”

The second post on their Instagram explains the movement in further detail— “One part of our movement is to hold those responsible for oppression accountable, abolish the structures that uphold this oppression, and rebuild them to be anti-oppressive. To ensure that we focus our time and resources effectively, our platform will be dedicated to a ‘current’ mission until we see the change we want!”

Amid the resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement, a current student asked through the private Facebook group for the Musical Theater program, “Why is it that we have not heard any words of support in regards to the Black Lives Matter protests that have been happening around the country?” This question led to the creation of the mission See Our Truths is currently working to accomplish.

Their first goal was to acknowledge the University’s oppressive behavior in the Musical Theater Program. The movement aims for justice and reparations for 150+ alumni and students of color that have passed through the program in the last 14 years.

The purpose of hearing the Truths of these students are “Creating unity and support within our community to help heal from the hurt these people and systems caused and empower ourselves as individuals and a community. Make those who have committed these acts or ones similar recognize the part they played. Increase public pressure on the institution to work with us and hold those responsible fully accountable for their actions.”

Since Aug. 7 the account has released a series of IGTV episodes in which students have expressed their experiences within the program. You can find stories from Samantha Joy (2009-2013), Sandra Okuboyejo (2014-2018), Saidu Sinlah (2012-2016), Jada Temple (2014-2018), Abdu Hytrek (2017-2021) and William Bellamy (2012-2016). Each full episode can be found on their YouTube account here.

On Aug. 16, the movement announced an update to their mission that shares requirements for the abolition of the University’s Musical Theatre program. The requirements read:


  • All transitional actions structures, hiring, and plans will be led and approved by the See Our Truths movement interim Education Committee.
  • Amy Rogers (Head of the Program) is fired
  • JV Mercanti (Head of MT) is fired
  • All faculty who have cases of perpetuating or enabling racist policies and practices are fired or interviewed for rehire to ensure they align/have the training to uphold the new anti-racist/anti-discrimination/liberatory structure of the school
  • Faculty who did not directly contribute to racist policies and practices are interviewed for rehire and attend the new mandatory training
  • New leadership of Pace Performing Arts and the Musical Theater Program are BIPOC who are thoroughly trained in the anti-racist/implicit bias/diversity and inclusion/socio-economic/ restorative and transformative justice
  • Commitment to seek and hire new faculty that encompasses the full spectrum of diversity


  • Budgeted implementation of mandatory diversity & inclusion/ implicit bias/ aunty-racism, socio-economic/ restorative and transformative justice training for all current and prospective faculty
  • Budgeted implementation of diversity & inclusion/implicit bias/anti-racism, socio-economic/ restorative and transformative justice seminars and training sessions for the student body

Program Structure:

  • Accountability Committee comprised of professionals, alumni, and students budgeted into [the] program and hired. Professionals that have no ties to the school to ensure the new anti-racist/anti-discrimination structures and policies are upheld and new curriculum standards are met. All students and alumni who participate in this committee will be PAID for their time and work.
  • Code of Ethics Contract implemented for all adjunct professors, artist in residence, masterclass participants: Beneficiary of the contract can sue if a breach of this claim is committed.
  • Budgeted implementation of onsite therapists specifically trained in decolonization/racial healing/ restorative justice therapies in practices

Educational Programming:

  • Commitment to building a new inclusive, innovative, conscious, global, liberatory syllabus, curriculum and pedagogy
  • New, equitable performance structure that includes students in show selection process and provides maximum amount of performance practice
  • An Education Grant provided to the See Our Truths movement as compensation for their labor”


  • Reimbursement of tuition for all BIPOC students/ alumni for failure to educate as advertised and promised
  • Payments for pain and suffering/emotional damages for up to 4 years
  • Payment for therapy for those attended therapy for pain and suffering/ emotional damages
  • Payment for jobs lost as a result of defamation and slander of previous/current students perpetrated by faculty/Amy
  • Payment for a 2-year program, that we select and/or design, focusing on emotional/ psychological/educational remedial repair for alumni of color who attended Pace during Amy’s tenure.

Best Practice of Truth + Reconciliation:

  • Explicitly unconditionally release anyone (staff, faculty, students) from their confidentiality clauses who may have been there during the tenure of Amy and pursued legal action against the school for something relevant to racial discrimination and reached a settlement. Students or faculty of any kind that are relevant to this performing arts program.

The See Our Truths movement also held a peaceful protest in front of One Pace Plaza on Sept. 3.

The speakers included Alex Sanders, who said, “We want to build a world that is built on truth, and is built on honesty. People in power actively avoid the truth being told because it keeps them in positions of power.” He continued, “We are done giving chances.”

Current student, Abdu Hytrek, followed Sanders. Hytrek said, “I am here to talk to you about two things—silence and the truth. If you are here today, you are here, you are here for truth. If you are part of this moment you are engaging in the truth. Transparency is the foundation of See Our Truths; honesty is the foundation of See Our Truths.”

The following speaker, Samantha Joy Singh, who was the first person to have their story released as the first episode, started off by saying “I’m very emotional because this is not even a moment that I could have ever dreamed of. I’m here today to represent the generation of MTs that do not have an ounce of the amount of courage, the amount of knowledge, the amount of power that is represented here in all of you.”

Singh continued, “The amount of abuse, trauma and mental, emotional and psychological torture that happened behind closed doors during those years and in private is indescribable. The amount of trauma that my brother and sisters at the time did not have the words to articulate are still carrying so much of that experience with them day-to-day.”

Alumni Aury Krebs spoke later, saying, “It is so fucking powerful to look at each of you. I want everyone to take a look around you. This is the community that we have cultivated despite the oppression we have experienced at this University.”

Krebs continued, “The greatest mistake that Amy made was underestimate us. Believe that we did not have the capability to organize, and here we fucking are.”

After Krebs, Sarah Hamaty shared a scenario that had been stuck on her mind, leading her to face the University and say, “You are dirty… I am here to take out the trash.”

Sanders ended by saying, “Thank you so much for showing up, advocating for others, advocating for yourself. This is the way that we make change. This is the way we do not let our truths go unseen and hold ourselves back from making any actual progress in this world.”

The group was then led by members of the movement to march from One Pace Plaza towards South Street Seaport, the University’s Performing Arts building on Fulton Street and back to the University where they held their closing remarks, took a knee and had a moment of silence.

Following the moment of silence, Sanders said, “Just to be clear, that silence was not for you. That was for us. That was for the lives that have been lost as a result of the same system that you chose to uphold every single day.”

Sanders added, “And that is the last time we will give you silence because you have gotten it from us for too long. That is the last time you will see us silent because from this point on we will be speaking loudly in ways that you never encouraged us to and will continue to try and keep us from doing with your town halls, your policies and procedures and your title IX investigations that you conducted.”

He concluded, “So we’ll keep speaking and we’ll keep showing up until you decide to see us. You will be seeing us as much as possible.”

Some chants at the protest included, “See Our Truths,” “where is Amy?” “Black Lives Matter,” and “Pace is racist.”

You can find the recorded peaceful protest on See our Truths’ Instagram and on their Facebook account.

To donate you can head to their GoFundMe by clicking here or donate through Venmo (@SeeOurTruths-Movement) to help support the movement.

Sanders provided a statement to The Pace Press on behalf of the organization:

“I created See Our Truths because I was seeing a huge discrepancy, both in the world and in the systems that function within the world, and the inherent harm that comes from that. These systems of oppression are much more complex and deeply integrated than I think most people like to admit and that is where the discrepancy comes in. If we all agree that the standard for humanity should be one of liberation, equity, healing and empowerment, then we have to acknowledge the huge gap between that standard we say we believe in and the oppressive realities we see unfolding each and every day right before our eyes. And then the question becomes ‘Why is there a gap?’ And the answer is because we refuse to see it. 

Then I looked around at the incredible people I am in community with: my friends, my family, my Pace community and saw people who were seeking truth and standing proudly in truth, despite the many aspects of society that detract us from doing so. So when the opportunity to work on this movement was presented to them it was a completely authentic and natural process. We had been seeing the same discrepancies and wanted to turn towards them rather than away; this is what the movement is built on. It exists to help us all see those gaps and actually connect them for ourselves and our world, but this is not something we are used to. We are here to acknowledge the limited nature of the processes of change that we all adhere to and to question what those processes are built on. Why can’t we create change swiftly and safely? Why does it have to be something that gets filtered through all these policies and procedures? The truth is, it doesn’t. This is just the accepted way of approaching change that was developed in order to keep things relatively the same and to assess liability before assessing possibility.  

Contrary to the opinions of the oppressors, we are not interested in slander campaigns and ruining the livelihood of other human beings. We are interested in genuine repair and progress. The goal is to bring about a model of ‘authentic accountability’ for those who have caused harm; one that ensures long-lasting and impactful change is achieved in every way. And this is not only beneficial to the people being harmed by these systems, but also to the people who are in positions to harm others. We understand fundamentally that humans are bound to make mistakes, and the goal isn’t to say that no mistakes will ever be made again, but rather to establish a true process of repair when those mistakes are made. If we all want to create an environment that actually enriches and uplifts the lives of everyone within it, especially the people of color, then it shouldn’t be looked at as an attack, but rather a creative process that allows us to ignite our imagination outside of the limits of ‘how it’s always been.’ Because ‘how it’s always been’ has led us to the place we are now, so clearly something has to change. The way that change has been attempted in the past was not sufficient enough, otherwise, would we have these problems persisting for 15+ years? 

We need authentic change and that change can’t be a reformation or update on the way it has been, it needs to be newly built and boldly imagined without being restricted to the past. Change that isn’t restricted by the idea of  ‘that’s the way the world works’, because the only reason the world works the way is because we all collectively allow it to. See Our Truths is here to ask ‘What if we didn’t agree to the workings of the world as they always have been? What if we allowed ourselves to imagine more for ourselves and our world?’ and then build from there. And yes, this is about Pace, but Pace is a microcosm for the world right now. So let’s start this imagining and building here at Pace, so the world can begin to follow our lead.”