broken plate

Letter writer Breanna Diaz shares her testimony. 

Editor's Note: Trigger warning. This letter contains information about sexual assault and violence. 

If you have been following along and supporting my activity within the Iowa State campus, thank you. To begin, I would like to share with all of you more about me. My name is Breanna Diaz. I am a first-generation college student majoring in child, adult and family services. I am Mexican American and I am the proud daughter of an immigrant.

Although I stand here in front of all of you with confidence and assertiveness, I am broken on the inside.

I have dealt with things within my 22 years of life that I would never want anyone else to ever go through. For those of you who have heard me present for HD FS 249, you know that I have a vast amount of experience with ACEs.

I have had to live a majority of my life without my birth father because he was deported when I was a baby.

I have had to see my mom struggle in the past with drug addiction.

I have seen my mother be physically and mentally abused by past boyfriends.

Together, my mother and I have faced homelessness.

I have my own experience with childhood sexual assault from when I was just a small child. When I was in high school I found myself in a physically and mentally abusive relationship. It got so bad that I showed up to school one day with two black, swollen eyes, a busted lip, broken fingers, bruises all over my body, etc. A few weeks after that, I lost my biggest support system. I was raised by my grandparents, and losing my grandmother to cancer absolutely broke me. I apologize for my emotions, but trauma anniversaries are very real and April and May have been especially hard on me.

Before my grandmother passed away, she was able to come to Iowa State for my orientation. I had told her and my grandfather about how excited I was to be here. I told them about how Iowa State felt like home to me. Within my first semester at Iowa State I realized that was not actually true.

I remember the shock that I felt walking on campus. I came from a town that has a large Latinx population. Yet, when I was here, I felt very alone because there were not many people who I could relate to culturally. It was probably within my very first week at Iowa State that I got harassed for speaking in Spanish, which isn’t even good.

As the years went on, I started realizing more and more things happening on campus.

I remember seeing chalk markings of swastikas and other hate being spewed.

I remember seeing the stickers talking about incarceration rates of Black people in America. We can address systematic incarceration as a result of the 13th Amendment, but that’s for another time.

I remember seeing flyers advocating for white supremacy.

I remember seeing a white supremacist attending a student organization's meeting.

I remember seeing tweets by a certain Student Government member advocating for “arming up” and supporting criminals storming the White House.

I remember seeing Wendy Wintersteen cater to white students when marginalized students were being hurt.

To be completely honest, I hold a lot of animosity toward many individuals at this campus because of these experiences since some things are absolutely unforgivable.

I will never forgive Ryan Hurley for promoting white supremacy nor will I forgive any student who has voted for him.

I will never forgive Wendy Wintersteen for praising the ISU/Ames PD after George Floyd was murdered.

I will never forgive Morgan Fritz or Jacob Schrader for disrespecting the BIPOC who make up this institution.

I will never forgive Daniel P. or Chuck K. or any other senators of the Iowa State Student Government for making a mockery of students' experiences.

I will never forgive Iowa State, as an institution, for adhering to the white students by showing complacency when others are being oppressed.

I will never forgive Iowa State for tokenizing the legacies of Jack Trice and George Washington Carver, especially when there is a building on campus named after a white supremacist.

How am I supposed to continue to fight through my past trauma, maintain academic status, hold executive positions, work, etc. when I am constantly fighting for myself and others to be seen as equals at this institution? To be completely transparent, I simply can't.

I have struggled greatly with my mental health. I have seen specialists and other therapists for my post-traumatic stress disorder, borderline personality disorder, depression, anxiety and passively suicidal thoughts.

For that reason, I have decided to take a step down from my position and take a step back from Iowa State. As I have stated various times before, I no longer care about obtaining a degree. My only goal was to make Iowa State a better place for future students.

I have put my heart into everything I have done here and I recognize that so many others have as well. Quite frankly, I understand that everything I have said or done means absolutely nothing to the vast majority of students and staff at Iowa State.

However, this statement is not for them.

This statement is for everyone out there that has supported me in my endeavors, for everyone who looks up to me and to everyone who has been listening. I have fought and will continue to fight for the well-being of all students on campus until my very last day. I hope to continue my work and I hope that I have made at least some sort of impact on campus leading up to this point.

However, I want to make a promise to everyone that I will always remain active.

Breanna Diaz is a member of Sigma Lambda Gamma National Sorority Inc. and vice president of Community Outreach for the Multicultural Greek Council.

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(1) comment

Robert Ederburg

Breanna,

I can definitely empathize with the adversity you faced growing up. But, I would like to share one simple bit of wisdom.

Bitterness, or the refusal to forgive, is like a poison you drink that you wish would hurt someone else.

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