Students discuss micro aggressions

JACOB MADDEN, News Editor | [email protected]

In an effort to continue pushing for diversity on campus, the Inclusive Communities Team, part of the Department of Residence (DOR), held an event titled March Against Micro Aggressions on Tuesday, March 29 in the Maucker Union ballroom. Approximately 80 students attended.

The committee wanted to focus on a fundamental problem with diversity on campus, and chose micro aggressions as the vehicle for this, according to committee member, senior elementary education and Spanish double major, Crystal Pottebaum.

The committee went to the Union and each dining center to ask students what constitutes a micro aggression. Then, students were asked to hold up boards about some known micro aggressions.

The boards that students held up included messages they had heard or that they had witnessed. These included messages ranging from ‘Just because I’m a Republican, doesn’t mean I’m racist,’ to several women holding up the sign, ‘Go make me a sandwich!’

These events had a great turnout, according to Pottebaum, and the weeks of projects culminated into the event held on March 29 in the Union ballroom. The event began with a video, displaying pictures of the boards that students held up, as well as video clips featuring students explaining what they thought micro aggressions were and their experience with them.

The event opened with a speech from Coree Burton, Resident Life Coordinator (RLC) of Shull Hall, about the importance of the event and the attendees’ participation.

“I know you guys are the choir,” said Burton, “and we’re preaching to the choir today, but sometimes the choir needs practice too.”

After the speech and video, the participants chose tables to discuss at, the topics included some of the more expected micro aggression topics, such as race, gender and sexual orientation, but it also included topics like regional, cultural, socioeconomic, political or philosophical micro aggressions.

These discussion tables rotated every seven minutes and featured RA’s who led the discussions and prompted the participants thinking. The discussions included both personal experiences with micro aggressions, as well as those who witnessed micro aggressions.

While many students enjoyed the event, some felt that Burton’s description of “preaching to the choir” was accurate.

“I didn’t learn much because I’m kind of a social justice nerd and this is something I’ve read a lot about,” said sophomore elementary education major, Danielle Templeton. “But I think it was very well organized, in the fact that it introduced the topic for people who didn’t know it.”

Templeton explained that it was effective because it offered a chance for people to talk about the issues instead of being talked at.

“The diversity level was good,” Templeton said. “I liked that they had more than race and gender.”

Sophomore deciding major, Hannah Gregor said that discussions like this should happen more on campus, and should extend beyond just micro aggressions.

“We should have discussions on gender. We should have discussion on diversity [and] disability. We should have discussions on everything.” Gregor explained that once people are educated, she thinks that those micro aggressions will start to go away.

Pottebaum explained that each semester the Inclusive Communities Team changes staff, so the committee this year wanted to lay a foundation for future programs that are larger, and that are more directly related to the most pertinent issues on campus.