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Reflect, Rebuild, & Rise: Social Practices of Inclusion Conference
The first student-led conference that addresses diversity, equity, and inclusion on the campus of Bennington College. “The predominantly white college has had an increase in its rate of diversity since 2015, which motivated students to take initiative and organize conversations around diversity and inclusion on campus”. Ahmad Yassir ’20 and Deja Haley ’20 partnered with the VP of Diversity and Inclusion, Delia Saenz to address these issues through a campus-wide collaborative project.
This has opened the door to exploring and experimenting with various social practice and art intervention projects in spaces that have high traffic by the community and establish a formal conference to hold multiple dialogues on several topics suggested by the student leaders.
The conference included multiple panels led by students to discuss and reflect on very relevant topics and recommend changes to the institution based on their personal experiences and observations. Due to the challenges we faced due to COVID-19, namely the closure of campus, we have found new means of communicating our ideas and initiating platforms for reflection with an attempt to model a physical conference experience.
Alex Bersino’s session Stories & Solutions displayed students of color telling stories about things that have happened during their time at Bennington. This is a reflection of their lived experiences. The participants in this video will describe how issue(s) were addressed and also include suggestions for how the situation could have gone better and effective ways in which such needs can be addressed going forward.
India Carter’s session on Self-Reflection of Privilege & Oppression will examine how social identities can impact one’s daily experiences and underscore the different levels of privilege that exist on campus. Learn about yourself and others and the implications of separation and segregation. India has taken the time to create a self-reflection quiz that addresses privilege & oppression. (https://www.tryinteract.com/share/quiz/5e72639b16083c0014837a5f )
Andreea organized a Show & Exhibit titled Celebration of World Cultures Show where international students’ will showcase talent from various cultures represented here at Bennington College. But this comes with a twist! It will not only be for the consumption of the audience but also for coming up with solutions on increasing the level of representation for the international community on campus!
Claire Webb’s session titled Hearing and Healing: Circle Practice for Diversity and Inclusion: Circle processes are all about reflection: reflection on your own life, mind, biases, and positionality as well as reflection on the perspectives of the people around you. Circles encourage participants to spend a moment truly listening to hear, rather than listening to respond. Circles then allow participants to rebuild relationships and dynamics from the ground up, from a place of understanding. Ultimately, circles allow new, healthier dynamics to rise out of a sense of compassion, understanding, and accountability.