The Paul J. Burgett Intercultural Center held a community discussion on privilege last Wednesday, giving students an opportunity to discuss the effects of their and others’ privileges.
The event stems from student feedback given to the University after the “One Community” presentation held during Orientation Week. Many students wanted the opportunity to continue the conversation of that event, resulting in the scheduling of the “One Community” dialogue series at the Intercultural Center, which included the privilege forum as its first installment.
The goal of the series is to allow students to express their thoughts on social issues in a safe and stimulating collegiate environment.
The discussions at Wednesday’s event, which often focused on discovering one’s own privileges and sharing it with others, touched on topics such as nationality, ability, wealth, and language, as well as issues surrounding stereotyping and bias.
Despite noble goals and agreed-upon importance of the topics, attendance at the event was low.
“I think that these conversations are important to be had, especially on campuses where we have a lot of ethnic and cultural diversity,” senior Destiny Maitland said. “I think that these conversations should have the whole campus come out.”
Graduate School of Education and Human Development student Margaret Warner and assistant at the Paul. J Burgett Intercultural Center Jay Strobeck led the discussion.
“I think the ‘One Community’ dialogue series is important because students can talk about difficult topics,” Strobeck said. “It starts with orientation’s ‘One Community’ program, and we hope to continue having these conversations throughout the year.”
At the end of the session, there was a feeling of optimism in the room, as well as a sense of urgency for more of the community to get involved.
“I think privilege is something we all have, regardless of identity,” Maitland said. “It may be hard to recognize, but I think at the end of the day, when we recognize our privileges in everyday life and the privileges other people don’t have, we can become a more accepting society.”