December 15, 2018

Checking Your Privilege at PC: PC Democrats Event Inspires Discussion About Social Issues

posted on: Thursday December 6, 2018

Photo of diversity mural in Moore Hall.

The mural in Moore Hall represents a step in the right direction towards continuing to promote diversity at the College. Photo courtesy of Providence College News.

by Bridget Blain ’19

Opinion Staff

Even though college is often considered to be the final step before entering the “real world,” college campuses can often feel like their own little private world. The priorities of academic life and involvement with clubs on campus can lead to students not being fully aware of what is going on outside of their own lives.

This past Thursday, Providence College Democrats hosted a panel to discuss strategies to break the PC bubble in order to create more opportunities for students to have conversations about privilege and other social issues, not only with their professors, but with each other outside of class.

Members of the panel were asked to talk about topics such as how to recognize one’s own privilege and the importance of taking the time to learn about other student’s life experiences.

Panelists also discussed how to best create a dialogue in the classroom to help students become aware of their privilege and how to use it to help make changes here at PC and out in the real world when they graduate and are no longer shielded by the campus bubble.

One of the ways in which almost all of the panelists agreed that PC can help foster these conversations is through academics.

An issue that was brought up by the panelists is that while PC does have a diversity requirement, it is easy enough for students to not even take a class that fulfills that requirement until their senior year.

Putting off fulfilling this requirement only hurts students as they may miss out on learning opportunities and important discussions during the majority of their college years.

As these conversations typically start in the classroom, more of an emphasis should be placed on students gaining a better understanding about social issues throughout all four years of college.

If students are given more chances to learn how to recognize the importance of acknowledging their own privilege and how to advocate for those who may not have the same privileges, they will leave PC with the knowledge and awareness necessary to make a real impact in the world.

Recognizing and admitting one’s own social privileges is often an uncomfortable and painful process. For college students, it can be very easy to only focus on academics and their social life and not have to think about what is going on outside of campus. For other students, ignoring the outside world may not even be an option as political decisions or other events may have a direct and immediate impact on their lives.

In order to gain a better understanding of the different life experiences of others and to create a more inclusive environment, an emphasis needs to not only be placed on the importance of learning about systemic privilege during class time, but also on how to have productive conversations about privilege outside of the classroom as well.

Colleges across the country need to constantly evaluate whether or not they are encouraging their students to learn and grow, not only as students, but as humans who will soon be entering the workforce and will have the opportunity to make real change in the world.

Changes cannot be made by our generation if we are not willing to have difficult conversations with each other.        

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