The Frederick Douglas Institute (FDI) held a privilege walk in Shippensburg University’s Ceddia Union Building (CUB) amphitheater Tuesday to raise awareness about social inclusion and diversity on campus.
Students were advised by professor Sharnine Herbert, the club’s faculty liaison, to form a line and stand next to someone they did not know.
Faculty members read statements into a microphone, and prompted students to step forward or backward if the statement applied to them.
Some of the statements were concerned with things like whether participants’ parents could hire a nanny; if this statement applied to a student they were prompted to step forward. When faculty members said statements concerned with whether students grew up around gang violence, or have been discriminated against based on their skin color or ethnicity, they asked the students to take a step backward.
As the statements were read, the gaps between students grew larger. Once all of the statements were read, the group of students were no longer in a straight line but rather freckled across the CUB amphitheater.
The exercise highlighted other people’s experiences that some students had not considered before.
“I’m pretty surprised honestly,” freshman Savannah Wood said. “I came from a very rural area and I didn’t really realize there were that many problems in society.”
The current chair of FDI, senior Miranda White, organized the event to put a spotlight on diversity on campus.
“I’ve noticed that here at Shippensburg University diversity is really not where it needs to be,” White said. “People are ashamed of where they come from, but it doesn’t matter where you come from, what matters is where you go.”
White added that she is grateful to the faculty who helped her organize the privilege walk.
“What I love about the institution is that no matter what the students want to do, we always have some type of support from Old Main, Etter, the Learning Center, the Dean of Students’ Office — it’s just amazing.”