Students returned from the second annual Social Justice Retreat with a fire for improving campus climate.
As the second week of the semester winds down, the group has already set up a meeting with president Lesley Hallick to discuss the possibility of a student diversity center and several other projects planned during the retreat.
The retreat was held from Jan. 29 to Jan. 31 and was open for all students to apply. Accepted students traveled to Lincoln City with staff and faculty facilitators to discuss issues like privilege, power and micro aggressions.
They then had opportunities to discuss how those issues related to the Pacific campus and what could be done to improve on the climate.
Facilitator and sociology professor Daniel Eisen described the retreat as a transformative space that focused on students talking and really listening to each other.
“The retreat was honestly life-changing,” said junior Benjamin Becerra.
Becerra was one of the student-life leaders that went to the retreat and said it was the first time he saw what a true safe and accepting space looked like.
Facilitator, assistant director of student activities and multicultural interest Pete Erschen said he thought the tone of the retreat set the precedent for the level of excitement and engagement students had with each other.
“I think the tone we set at the retreat was what students expect and may have never felt with a group of people before,” Erschen said.
Eisen said the focus of the breakout sessions was majorly on broad issues and that the campus betterment ideas and efforts are completely student driven.
“It’s really exciting to see them so fired up and driven right now,” Eisen said. “At the last retreat we were trying to foster this kind of continued work and now it’s happening because they want it.”
Becerra said he is really excited to see the work the group gets done.
As of right now, Becerra said the projects are fairly early in the planning stages but a diversity center for students and a diversity day dedicated to education are big projects the group is excited to work toward.
“Honestly, these people are so driven and excited,” Becerra said. “I really think some big changes are coming our way.”
Erschen said the facilitators plan to continue to grow the retreat and add another 15 slots for interested students in the coming years.
Becerra said the group welcomes any and all students who are interested in diversity issues or improving campus climate in general to contact him at bece7566@pacificu. edu and get involved with the group.