The Baker Orange

Social justice events provide understanding

Story by Mykaela Cross, Assistant Editor

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Student Activities Council is hosting a week of social justice events, which started Tuesday and will run through Thursday. The themed events, Tunnel of Oppression, a Night of Social Justice with Cody Charles and the People Empowering People rally all feature the idea of equality.

Director of Student Life Randy Flowers said social justice is the idea of certain privileges that are forced on the different people in society because of distinctions like race, class, religion, sexuality and ability.

“We’re really trying to break down diversity and show that it comes in many different forms,” Flowers said. “We all have a role in society to minimize these privileges.”

Tuesday’s Tunnel of Oppression focused on the more serious elements of social justice. The event, held in the Irwin Hall basement, was a tour through visual displays that presented information on the many negative ways that people or their ideals have been mistreated.

“We’ve had many mixed reactions of those coming through the tunnel,” Flowers said. “People have felt guilty, sad or even empowered that others are noticing what they’ve gone through, but few have left feeling happy.”

Though seemingly disheartening, Flowers finds value in these events.

Cody Charles, associate director for academic enrichment at Kansas University, will also visit Baker at 9 p.m. on Wednesday, April 23, in the McKibbin Recital Hall. He plans to “have a great conversation” about social justice with both students and staff.

“I’ll be talking about social identities like gender, class, ability, race and religion in order to give a better understanding of how we engage the world,” Charles said.

Charles’ “passion for conversation” has driven him to speak up about issues like social justice.

“I’m excited to engage with a new student population,” Charles said. “Though I will give a short lecture on what social justice is so everyone is on the same page. The core of the event will be self reflection and critical thinking.”

Charles’ goal is that students will leave with a better understanding of themselves and become better leaders who form their own opinions from their experiences and not simply what they have been told.

“I encourage students to show up,” Charles said. “College is about information gathering and growth and this is one of those opportunities.”

Freshman SAC member Jami Sanborn agrees with Charles on the importance of understanding diversity.

“It’s really an empowering and eye-opening experience to see the many forms of diversity and oppression,” Sanborn said.

Thursday’s event is the People Empowering People rally and will be held at 11:30 a.m. outside the Collins Library. Designed by a Baker senior three years ago, the event will be an exhibition of dancing, singing, spoken words and other activities in order to show the many forms of diversity on the Baker’s campus through action.

“It will really show that no matter what culture you come from, we really do the same things, just in different ways,” Flowers said.

Both Flowers and Sanborn believe the events are beneficial to students.

“It gives us a different way to look at people’s views and builds an acceptance and understanding of diversity,” Sanborn said.

Flowers agrees that understanding the different forms of diversity can help students be more accepting.

“Though we’ll probably never be able to completely appreciate everyone for who they are, these events will bring us a little closer to becoming one Baker family,” Flowers said. “I would hope that by the end of the week, we’ll be a closer community.”

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