What Thao sees that Taylor doesn’t

Kristen Caven
4 min readOct 27, 2022

He’s a colonizer’s darling; she heard cries for justice

Oakland lost one of our greatest treasures this year. Mills College leaders gave the school, its land, and all its assets away to the Amazon of colleges, Northeastern University. Sheng Thao was the only City Councilperson who took the time to grasp the implications of this unethical and downright shady corporate takeover, even calling for a congressional investigation. Loren Taylor was, as proven in today’s breaking news, an architect, of this land grab in his district. He has been planning to turn a college into condos.

Mills was a gentle, powerful place that produced artists, educators, visionaries, business and progressive minority leaders. When the alumnae sued for information, trying to understand why the renowned liberal arts college for women had to close, (a lie, according to public audits) and asked for support, Mayor Schaaf said “there’s nothing we can do, it’s a private nonprofit.” Instead of standing up for Oakland’s congenital sister (both the city and the school were founded in 1852), its school-to-education pipeline, world class music program, and legacy of female leaders and athletes, her staff eagerly partnered with the rapidly expanding Boston-based school, who took over Mills as their 12th campus colony.

Northeastern University now owns the “Strong Women, Proud Women” statue donated by an alumna after the 1990 reunion. They own all donated artworks, buildings, assets, land, and the $187M endowment. They paid $30M of Mills’ debts in the acquisition. There was never a capital campaign or a chance for alumnae to lean in. See more protest photos here.

Tayor shrugged off our pleas as he opened Oakland’s doors to their empire. His office ignored warnings by concerned and affected citizens. He was not interested in reports about the harm this deal did to the lives of students — many if not most of whom had to leave or change majors, and all of whom are part of a lawsuit — and faculty (Oakland residents) who have not had a fair contract for years and are now learning they won’t be getting one from NU. Oakland Grown Taylor, who went to College Prep, gets NU, where upper-middle class parents paying full price to ensure their kids will find upper-middle-class jobs. He’s “all about Oakland students” — unless, it seems, they’re girls, women, or LGBTQIA? Why did he say NOTHING when we asked?

Thao was a single mom when she became a Merritt Community College valedictorian. She knows what it’s like to be overlooked, under-resourced, and underestimated. Having escaped an abusive partner, she understands that Mills College literally saved lives in a world where 1 out of 3…

Kristen Caven

Author of The Winning Family and much more. Also likes shoes and jello. My books are at www.kristencaven.com