Bridging the gap to understanding

By Andrew Doran

Over St. Valentine’s week, the CI’s Housing and Residential Education program put on an event to allow CI students to understand their privilege. The “Bridge the Gap” program was full of moments that allowed for students to think about how their skin color, religion or gender has allowed them have privilege during their life.

Walking through the exhibit allowed for students to become immersed in the messages that were there to push the student out of their boundaries. Videos, still images, words and articles were all used in order to show how the world makes an effort to push a white person’s image and not their own.

The exhibit was interactive as well, allowing for students to tell stories on how they feel about privilege when it came to race, religion or orientation. Students really had to dig deep within themselves in order to be honest with themselves and with the people around them.

The main themes that were touched on was the cycle of socialization and the cycle of liberation. These models both touched on why privilege is viewed as it is in the current day and what can we do to stop it.

The “Bridge the Gap” program has been a part of CI since 2011 with the Housing and Residential Education program putting it on every year. While the program has gone through changes since it started at CI, the main mission stays the same. “One, we want people to be aware of the privileges that they have. They are unasked for, there’s nothing you did to have them, but they still play a role,” said Tanya Yacheson, Coordinator of Community Programs for Housing and Residential Education. “The second piece of it is now that [they] are aware of that role, how can I work towards dismantling those systems that utilize privilege to keep certain people or populations down.”

One of the main things that changed this year though was that the entire program was run and created by the students of CI. “They did all the research and planned everything,” said Yacheson. Even with the amount of rain CI received over the two day period, the event was still a success according to Yacheson. “We had more involvement from some different classes that we didn’t have last year, so that was great to see.”

This will be the last year that Housing and Residential Education does the program. It will be left in good hands for the future. Retention, Outreach & Inclusive Student Services will be taking on the task moving forward to create the program that will allow for students to understand the biases that occur. “I’m excited to see how they adapt it to make it their own” said Yacheson.

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