Symposium Day opens minds to privilege

Symposium Day on Jan. 18 offered students and faculty a chance to understand different perspectives and ideals with the overall theme of “Privilege”, through keynote speakers and sessions during a time where the divisions of the nation are more prominent.
Associate dean for curriculum and enrichment Jeffery Ratliff-Crain was amazed by the communities involvement and enthusiasm from putting together this program, but was also hesitant with the reactions that would follow with this years theme.
“I did go into this particular one with the shift in name into privilege a little concerned,” Ratliff-Crain said. “That was a term that felt loaded, like it was going to shape things in a way very differently than what we had previously with social justice.”
With this being his fourth year of organizing Symposium Day, Ratliff-Crain credits the community for putting the event together, as the day would not have the same impact it has if not for their involvement. The featured speakers come from suggestions from a majority of faculty members within the community, in addition to the Symposium committee in gathering guests.
“I try as much as possible to reach out to people so that we’re not getting the same people and so I’ve got a running folder of suggested speakers so I really do want the students staff faculty to send suggestions,” Ratliff-Crain said.
Sessions offered on the day of alternative learning for the community ranged from five sets of concurrently scheduled presentations, discussions and performances from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Four featured speakers were given a session in four of the five sets, and were Theresa Williamson, Dr. Nancy Evans, Dr. Eduardo Marquez, with a featured presentation from the Guerrilla Girls as the closing of the day.
Junior Rachael Meadors utilized her time to go to multiple sessions throughout the day through personal interest, but commented on how the day is used seen as an “Augie cop-out” in regards to some of her peers.
“This is a day where we actively confront these issues but at the same time, while I might be confronting this time in my classes, symposium day can become shallow,” Meadors said.
Meadors thought that the presenters were a good mix, with the inclusion of there were faculty, women of color, the past and how the different sessions connected to the present in a way  that was dynamic and multidimensional.
“My favorite session was Michael Roger’s ‘Racial Battle Fatigue: being Black and Tired’. I wanted to go to that because I saw black and tired and I was like, ‘that is me’,” Meadors said. “I talk a lot about emotional labor and a few students  who are engaged in political activism and protests on campus and we talk about how its the same seven to 15 of us every single time and I think that session opened my eyes in the different ways on why I’m so tired.”
A survey will be sent out later on in the week to get reactions and feedback on Symposium Day, which is used to make adjustments in the plans for the one that follows and in trying to understand people’s reasoning in going to sessions, or choosing to not go to sessions.
“I think [this day] was the right frame work for where we are in different ways available to us before so I was really personally relieved, I think overall pleased, when it came into action–how the theme brought the discussion forward and what I heard was lot of actual discussions,” Ratliff-Crain said.