Students bring new outlook on privilege, prejudice and marginalization back from retreat

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Pacific University students returned to campus on Jan. 27, after the Social Justice Retreat, with hopes and plans of positively impacting campus culture.

The Social Justice Retreat, organized by multiple campus groups, including the Student Multicultural Center, focused on teaching students values of social justice and ways in which to incorporate them on Pacific’s campus.

The three-day trip to Vernonia, Ore. included undergraduate and graduate students from both the Forest Grove and Hillsboro campuses. Freshman Alax Santiago recalled discussions on micro aggressions, racism and self-care. In another activity, students discussed privilege by putting beads on a string, with each bead representing a privilege they have.

“It was a visual way of seeing how much privilege you have,” Santiago said. “There were some privileges I hadn’t thought about.”

The activity was eye opening for other participants on the retreat as well.

“It’s really easy for me to overlook the privileges that I have because I’ve come to expect them and anticipate that everyone has the same experiences that I do,” Alicia Fox, a staff member of the Student Multicultural Center said.

For Fox, the retreat was healing because she got to express her frustrations and relate with other people of color. She hopes to provide the same experience for other students in the future. The Student Multicultural Center will have an open house on March 14, from 5-7 p.m. to inform students the center is a resource for them and a safe place for minorities.

“The goal of the center is supporting other marginalized or targeted groups on campus that don’t have a lot of support,” Fox said.

The Student Multicultural Center also hopes to have a university-wide diversity training for students, faculty and administrators in hopes of changing the culture on Pacific’s campus to be more inclusive and welcoming to underrepresented groups.

“There’s a lot of people that are not being heard, especially by the administration, by the board of trustees,” Fox said.

She hopes to bridge that gap and amplify the voices that are not heard on campus.

“We’re in dire need of the campus waking up and saying, I see you and I value you and I’m not only going to listen to you but I’m going to actually do some of the things that you are asking me to,” Fox said.


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