Power and privilege. The importance of self care. Interrupting oppression. These were just some of the sessions held during a three-day Social Justice Retreat in Vernonia, Ore. Attended by 29 Pacific students and 12 facilitators, the Social Justice Retreat, held Jan. 24-26, gives students the ability to enact social justice in their daily lives while building a community with like minded individuals.

Film student Alexander Ibarra attended the Social Justice Retreat to learn more about microaggressions and explore the issue of racism. He felt the retreat allowed him to expand his mind to how other people and cultures think, yet the seminar on self care impacted him the most.

“It was nothing I ever thought about,” Ibarra said. “You could call in sick if you’re mentally drained. It’s super important to not overwhelm yourself.”

The retreat was a collective effort from staff, offices, and centers, some of which include the Student Multicultural Center and the Office of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion. Retreat facilitators came from the Sociology department, Campus Wellness, and International Programs to name a few.  

Leading the session “Locating the Self,” student mentor Addie Brown helped students unpack their identity. They looked at gender, sexuality and socioeconomic background. From there, students acknowledged where they sit in society as well as their privileges.

“Acknowledging privilege is important,” Brown said. “Those with the most privilege are in ally positions.”

Brown emphasizes the retreat’s importance. It is a space for like-minded individuals to grow and learn together. “Your voice is a lot more powerful if you can find other people who feel the same way,” she said.

As her third and last year as a student mentor, Brown has enjoyed seeing the growth of the Social Justice Retreat. Even though it was started five years ago, she has watched the facilitators anticipate problems and adapt to their student’s needs. She is excited for the future of the retreat and believes it plays an important role in campus community. Brown hopes that future retreats will continue building that community and extending their connection to the campus.

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