The Pacific Index

Social Justice Retreat motivates positive change on campus

Hanin Najjar

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The application for Pacific University’s annual Social Justice Retreat is still open.

The overnight retreat will be three days and two nights and will take place at the Cedar Ridge Retreat and Conference Center in Vernonia at the end of January, held between winter term and spring term. Applications will be accepted until Nov. 2. Any Pacific student, undergraduate or graduate, can apply.

The retreat is a collaborative effort between different centers and departments on campus to provide students of all backgrounds the opportunity to develop the skills and understanding regarding systematic marginalization and to discuss identity, power, privilege and equity.

“The social justice retreat was started as an opportunity to build capacity among students, to improve the climate for inclusion and equity on campus,” Pete Erschen, Assistant Director of Student Activities said. “It gives students that opportunity and space to build awareness.”

At the retreat, students will have the chance to discuss and learn from peers in a safe space. They will also have the opportunity to network at the dinner with alumni who are active in social justice work and learn how to bring social justice into their lives after college.

“Students will also have an opportunity to think about their own identity development,” Erschen said. By being aware of their own identities they can then begin to understand other people’s identities better.

“The activities will also dive into storytelling to analyze how the stories we tell play into perpetuating power for certain groups and marginalizing others and how to change those stories,” Erschen said.

According to Erschen, the retreat provides skills for change making. Students who have gone to the Social Justice Retreat in the past years have brought social justice back to campus with projects such as the Boxer Food Share, a student run food pantry which provides free food and hygiene products to students, staff and faculty.

Other students have created trainings and presentations for students and faculty on topics of social justice. Graduate and professional students organized a diversity group on the Health Professions Campus to discuss social justice on their campus.

Students who are interested can apply at https://goo.gl/forms/x2tTmrNrqErPAAXf2. 

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Social Justice Retreat motivates positive change on campus