Students gain new skills for addressing racial issues at teach-in

Students gain new skills for addressing racial issues at teach-in

The campus conversation surrounding race continued at the Teach-in for Justice on Jan. 24, where over 200 students, faculty and staff members attended workshops and panels regarding white privilege, skills for social change and conflict resolution.

The event was hosted by nine campus organizations, including the Black Student Alliance and the Center for Diversity and Inclusion. It was a chance for the AU community to gain the tools necessary to tackle issues surrounding race, said Tatiana Laing, a junior in the School of Public Affairs and one of the event’s organizers.

“We understand this is a predominantly white school, so people are not inherently invested in the race issue, and that’s no fault of anyone else,” Laing said. “We want to give people an opportunity to understand what the issues are and what part they can play in the movement and why this is all so important.”

The teach-in marked a new extension of the ongoing race discussion at AU following “The Darkening” protest, which drew over 200 participants. The protest took place last semester in response to students’ perceived lack of response from the University over the events that took place in Ferguson, Missouri, The Eagle previously reported.

David Curtiss, a freshmen in the School of Public Affairs, got a chance to take to the microphone and explain his experience being the “token black person” in an AU classroom to hundreds of listeners.

“I believe outside the issues that are facing the country at large, there are problems that are going on distinctly at [AU] that deal with race and discrimination against certain people, specifically black and brown individuals,” Curtiss said.

Workshops throughout the day included a session facilitated by Associate Dean of Undergraduate Studies and Professor of Sociology Celine-Marie Pascale. Pascale’s workshop, which was open to any registered guest, gave individuals strategies for speaking to their families about white privilege, according to participants.

Isobel Araujo, a freshmen in the College of Arts and Sciences, plans to take the lessons she learned at Teach-in for Justice and bring them to fruition.

“I’m looking forward to meeting new people and getting involved more on campus with people who care about this,” she said. “I came because black lives matter.”

Disclaimer: Isobel Araujo is a contributing writer for The Eagle.

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