Campus Life social justice retreat for all division staff

January 20, 2016

150 staff members from across all departments in the division of Campus Life & Student Services participated in a day-long retreat on January 19, 2016 as an "engaging and open space for discussing power, privilege, and oppression."  

This retreat is a professional development opportunity that is open to all staff and graduate students who are employed by Campus Life. The theme is Social Justice Retreat: An Engaging and Open Space for Discussing Power, Privilege, and Oppression. The primary objectives are to:

  • Deepen our understanding of the ways power, privilege, and oppression affect our lived experiences as Campus Life staff at Brown
  • Engage in meaningful conversations with colleagues in a supportive yet challenging learning environment
  • Showcase and leverage knowledge, skills, and abilities to illuminate how our work contributes to campus-wide diversity efforts

The retreat is structured as a conference and will include breakfast and lunch, an opening plenary session, three concurrent workshops, and a closing plenary session. You are welcome to attend any of the sessions but please consider participating the whole day — particularly in light of recent events on campus and nationwide, as well as the launch of the Pathways to Diversity and Inclusion plan.

This retreat is sponsored by the Office of the Vice President for Campus Life and Student Services. It is organized by the Retreat Planning Committee.

Committee Co-Chairs:

  • Mary Grace Almandrez, Interim Assistant Vice President for Campus Life & Student Services and Associate Dean of the College
  • Yolanda Castillo-Appollonio, Associate Dean and Director of Student Conduct

Committee Members:

  • Isaac Albanese, Administrative Coordinator, Student Activities Office
  • Allyson Brathwaite Gardner, Psychotherapist, Counseling and Psychological Services
  • Laurie Custodio, Executive Assistant, Office of the Vice President for Campus Life and Student Services
  • Sarah Fraser, Associate Athletic Director, Compliance
  • Mary Greineder, Assistant Dean, Student Support Services
  • Karen McNeil, Program Director, Office of Student Veterans and Commissioning Programs
  • Marc Peters, Men's Health Coordinator, BWell Health Promotion

Plenary Session |  9:15 - 10:30 am, Huttner Room

Opening Plenary: Sharing Narratives to Explore Privilege and Oppression
Presented by: Tim Shiner and Mary Grace Almandrez

Colleges and universities nationwide are refocusing their efforts to understand the root causes and complexities involved with structural racism and other forms of oppression. It is imperative, then, that the division of Campus Life and Student Services think critically, talk openly, and act compassionately with colleagues and students to cultivate campus communities that promote social justice. During this interactive session, the facilitators will review dynamics of privilege and oppression, use narratives as a tool to explore these dynamics, and lead participants through an exercise to share the ways they have experienced privilege and oppression in their everyday lives. This session helps set the stage for the 13 concurrent workshops that will be presented during the retreat. 

Concurrent Session 1  | 10:40 – 11:55 am

Busted: The Model Minority Myth and Mental Health
Conference Room, Faculty Club    |    Level: Intermediate
Presented by: Aleta Bok Johnson, LICSW (Counseling and Psychological Services)

The Model Minority stereotype is a biased construction that has served to marginalize and disparage African Americans and Latinx students, while simultaneously conditioning Asian American students to ask for less assistance.  The reality is that all students of color face disparities in mental health, largely impacted by racial bias.  Understanding how negative stereotyping impacts identity formation and complicates help-seeking can benefit student life personnel who want to better support Asian American students.  Because the risk factors facing this group are substantial, efforts must be made to challenge the Model Minority Myth and its detrimental impact.  The presentation will focus on elucidating the origins and motivations of the Myth, exploring the impact of negative stereotyping on identity formation and mental health, and will offer current information on the needs of this population.  Finally, the presentation will discuss strategies for supporting Asian American students in effective, culturally informed ways.

Intersecting Identities 101
Sarah Doyle Women's Center    |    Level: Novice
Presented by: Gail Cohee (Sarah Doyle Women’s Center)

The idea of intersectionality is foundational to the work many of us do with students, but many on campus are not familiar with the history or meaning of the term or with how central it is to social justice work.  This roundtable will explore the history and meaning of the term and examine how it functions in social justice education, especially at Brown.

Many Shades of Camo: Diversity Within the US Military
Kapstein Room, Faculty Club    |    Level: Novice, Intermediate
Presented by: Karen McNeil (Office of Student Veterans & Commissioning Programs)

A classic Onion headline (from 1991) reads: “Bottom 10 Percent of Last Year’s Graduating Class Ready to Take on Saddam”. In the accompanying article, prospective soldiers are represented as white, Southern males who, if they weren’t joining the Army, would be manning the tills at the Piggly Wiggly. This example, while humorous, is an accurate representation of some of the  dominant (and harmful) stereotypes about US service members and veterans. 

How true are these stereotypes? Who are our student veterans and commissioning students, and why do they choose to serve? In this workshop, Karen McNeil of the Office of Student Veterans and Commissioning Programs will present a statistically-grounded picture of the demographics and motivations of service members, both in the US at large and here at Brown. We will discuss extensively the stereotypes that we hold about the people who make up the military, how these attitudes affect the educational experience of our students, and how we can combat these stereotypes and achieve a more welcoming campus for veteran and other military students.

Trans 101 - The Dating Game
Arnold Lounge    |    Level: Novice, Intermediate
Presented by: Kelly Garrett (LGBTQ Center) and Isaac Albanese (Campus Center & Student Activities Office)

What is the difference between sex and gender?  What is the relationship between sexual orientation and gender identity?  What is cisgender privilege? This interactive program will explore terminology related to sex and gender as well as how gender identity intersects with sexual orientation.  Participants will come away with a deeper understanding of terminology related to gender identity and expression as well as an understanding of ways they can support people who are Trans or are a person of Trans Experience.  

What is Race?
Portrait Room, Faculty Club    |    Level: Novice, Intermediate
Presented by: Joshua Segui and Shane Lloyd (Brown Center for Students of Color)

How would you define race? This session begins with a series of questions/activities that will challenge "common sense" conceptions of race (race as geography, race as ancestry, race as physical characteristics). Participants will grapple with the idea that race is socially defined. With this foundation set, color blind ideology will be introduced. Will ignoring race end race-based oppression? The goal of this session is to allow participants to reflect on and question whether or not practicing color blindness can ever lead to a racially just campus. 

Concurrent Session 2  | 1:10 – 2:25 pm

Islamophobia: Addressing our Hidden Bias
Portrait Room, Faculty Club    |    Level: Novice
Presented by: Adnan Adrian Wood-Smith (Chaplains & Religious Life)

As disillusioned people throughout the world today turn to the Qur'an and Islam to justify their use of hate and violence, the dominant rhetoric in Western media plays on fear and continues to ride a discourse that has dehumanized and otherized Muslims for centuries. Given the amount of psychological trauma currently affecting Muslims at Brown and the emotional and physical trauma affecting Muslims throughout the US and the world, this session will address the hidden bias against Islam and Muslims that many of us carry, inform participants about normative Islamic belief and practice, and engage participants in discussion regarding how to move forward to stop the hate and violence leveled against an entire religious community.

Privilege and Athletic Recruiting
Conference Room, Faculty Club    |    Level: Novice
Presented by:  Kayla Bashore, Jeanne Carhart, Colleen Kelly, Felix Mercado, Lars Tiffany (Athletics & Physical Education)

As more children are interested and participating in sport, the landscape of college recruiting is directly impacted.  Access to entry for these prospective student-athletes has played, and will continue to play a role in race, class, and economic status among recruited athletes.  One such barrier to entry this panel will touch on is the early recruiting trends in NCAA sports.  This trend has made it more challenging for young athletes with limited family financial resources to get exposure to college coaches. There is an increasing burden put on athletes and their families to fund the costly exposure camps and club fees. The end result is a limited recruiting pool leading to many collegiate teams being less diverse than the rest of the campus environment. This panel will speak on how race, class, and socioeconomic status are areas of concern in college athletic recruiting and how the Brown University Athletics Department is working to breach the gap, as sport often times mitigates the race, class, or economic disparity within teams.

Racial Battle Fatigue
Kapstein Room, Faculty Club    |    Level: All
Presented by: Maria E. Suarez (Student Support Services), Yolanda Castillo (Student Conduct), Shane Lloyd (Brown Center for Students of Color), Victoria Flowers (Athletics & Physical Education)

This session will provide a space for all staff to listen in as 4-6 staff of color discuss working with students who are experiencing racial oppression and marginalization on a personal and systemic level and how we (staff) are navigating and coping with our own racial fatigue. There will be an opportunity for the audience to interact with the panel. 

Residential Experience: A Social Justice Curricular Approach
Arnold Lounge    |    Level: All
Presented by
: Natalie Basil, Annie Maselli, Drake Douglas, Callie Parker & Mahogany Price (Residential Life)

The Residential Experience Team has embarked on a journey to change how and what students learn while and through living in our residential communities.  Starting with the development of an education priority that is linked to the University's mission, several workshops with student leaders and discussions with campus colleagues, we've developed 3 learning themes (Social Justice, Civic Responsibility and Self-Cultivation) that are leading to learning outcomes and the creation of community engagement plans that RPLs are implementing.  The session would expose the participants to the theories behind a curricular approach, the development of the curricular approach at Brown, the plans for moving this initiative forward and solicit feedback from campus colleagues about this initiative.

The inclusion of Social Justice as a core theme of our work is intentional.  We believe that not only because the histories of two of our student leader programs are embedded in student activism around issues of identity and justice, but also because our campus has a residential emphasis that we are in a unique position to be a strong conduit of learning for students.  By changing our model we want to expose students to intentional 1:1 and small group conversations, passive learning opportunities and structured pathways to develop a language, understanding and investment in issues of social justice while at Brown and beyond.  

Concurrent Session 3  |  2:35 – 3:50 pm

Emergency Funding for Students, in the Context of Class at Brown
Conference Room, Faculty Club    |    Level: All
Presented by: Laurie Custodio and MaryLou McMillan (Office of the Vice President of Campus Life and Student Services)

In this session, we will review data about undergraduates receiving financial aid and provide a basic overview of graduate student funding, in order to inform a discussion of the types of financial pressures students are experiencing and bringing forward for assistance.  We will review the types of requests we receive for assistance through Campus Life emergency funding, who those requests come from, the process for determining if a request qualifies for the funding available, and questions raised by patterns observed.  Discussion will focus on case studies drawn from composites of actual requests through the years and encourage participants to consider the individual cases but also the ways in which Brown signals financial expectations, in what ways we are helping, and where we might grow.

Disability at Brown
Arnold Lounge    |    Level: All
Presented by: Catherine Axe, Stephanie Vece, Jonathan Corey, Karol Gaitan and Erin Karalekas (Student and Employee Accessibility Services)

SEAS will present ongoing research on the history of disability at Brown to illustrate progress in improving access and inclusion. A timeline of notable figures and accessibility advancements will be presented. Disability rights and civil rights aspects will be emphasized.

We will also discuss where things are today on the campus, highlighting assistive technology as well as current services and accommodations. We will call attention to next steps that are critical to improve access and inclusion on our campus. Participants are encouraged to provide feedback, share ideas and ask questions.

On Being 'Black': The Racialized Experience of International Students
Portrait Room, Faculty Club    |    Level: Novice, Intermediate
Presented by: Shontay Delalue, PhD (International Student & Visitor Experience)

This session will allow for the exploration of the experience of African and Caribbean students in the U.S. based on my recent qualitative research. We will specifically focus on racial categorization as defined by the U.S. government and the notion of being ‘Black’ in a U.S. context from an international perspective. Using Critical Race Theory and Racial Formation ideology, we will examine the historical ramifications of racial labeling and its impact on students lived experiences today. We will also take the time to review the most current data on international students to the U.S. and Brown. 

The content of this session is timely and relevant to the retreat theme because it gives voice to a population amongst international students that is often stifled while simultaneously providing insight to the pervasive nature of the oppressive systems that were established throughout the African Atlantic Diaspora that still linger today.

Why Men Don't Seek Help
Kapstein Room, Faculty Club    |    Level: All
Presented by: Marc Peters (BWell Health Promotion) and Jamall Pollock (Counseling and Psychological Services)

Men are often the recipients of untold amounts of undue privilege. While the rewards of patriarchy makes it immensely easier to advance in academics and the workplace and to survive and thrive in everyday life, it does come at a cost as well. In order to receive those privileges, men and boys are required to adhere to a rigid definition of masculinity and are reprimanded any time they try to stray from that norm. Rather than being taught how to cope and how to put their emotions into words, young men are mocked for their perceived weakness. As a result, young men learn to mask emotion. They show no fear, no hurt, and no pain. Being socialized this way, creates men who detest seeking help for academics, physical health or emotional well-being. 

In this session, the facilitators will lead an interactive discussion about college-aged men and help-seeking behavior. They will talk about gender norms that serve as a barrier to getting help for coursework or any emotional or physical issues. The group will discuss the ways in which depression and other issues present differently in male-identified students. Finally, the group will brainstorms ways that they can serve as formal or informal supports to these students. 

Closing Session  | 4:00 – 4:45 pm

Where Do We Go From Here?
Presented by: Yolanda Castillo-Appollonio (Student Conduct) and Marc Peters (BWell Health Promotion)

This will be a time for Campus Life to come together and reflect on what we learned from a day of provocative sessions led by our colleagues. We will discuss what the knowledge we have obtained will mean for our work moving forward and brainstorm next steps for us as individuals; department; and a division. The session will be interactive and all attendees will have an opportunity to contribute their opinions and ideas. (There will also be a raffle held during this time and attendees must be present to win!)