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Adversity walk gives students

newfound perspective

Photo By: Cassandra Wuerstle

2-26-2019

Cassandra Wuerstle, News Editor

On Thursday the Association of Black Collegians (ABC)  held their adversity walk in McGarvey Commons, the organization held two separate times during the day for students to participate in an activity which asked questions about students struggles and privileges. Students were able to participate in either the 1:30 p.m. session or the evening, 4:00 p.m. session.

Khadija Wane, a senior supply chain management major, and president of the Association of Black Collegians welcomed students who joined in the event. Wane directed the event, reading a set of questions and dictating whether students who identified with the question would be asked to take a step forward or backwards.

Students lined up next to each other and moved as they were asked questions such as, “If you were raised by a single parent household please step back”, or “If you were ever offered a good job because of an association with a friend or family member please take a step forward.”

This particular event was used as an experiment to see if students would participate on a weekday and what times worked better or if students actually enjoyed having two sessions available to them. “So we did the two sessions because we knew if people can’t make it to the first one they will make it to the second one,” explained Wane.

Wane also explained that the two sessions during the day had been very different in dynamics. In the first session, people were much closer together where they ended up than the second one which was fairly spread out. While discussing the evening session Wane shared, “This one was definitely smaller and more intimate, we had double the amount in the first [session] which was really nice.”

By the end of the event and a series of questions, students were spread out around the room and were physically able to see how their peers on campus lived with adversity. Josh Thompson, a freshman psychology major shared his thoughts on the event, saying, “I thought it was interesting, I thought it was definitely productive to put into perspective what actually goes on in other people's lives. I realized I’ve been pretty privileged and pretty fortunate for everything that has come in my life, it’s informative to realize  that other people around you have been facing issues.”

Thompson also talked about how he really connected with the event, saying, “I’m actually becoming more aware of [adversity]  just through college in general, learning about different people and the different struggles they go through. I’ve always been the type of person who wants to recognize their privilege because I don’t want to seem like someone who isn’t gratuitous...I try to be empathetic, because sympathy isn’t the same kind of thing.”

Other students like Anna Schmitt a freshman english major also enjoyed the event. She explained, “I thought that it was short and sweet, which was nice. But, it helped me form some insights as to where I stand in the world, because I was kind of terrified starting out...it was a rough topic that I think they handled well”.

Several students, after the event, said that they had been most surprised by the questions regarding food availability. Most claimed that they had never thought about how fortunate they were, to not have to worry about where their next meal came from.

ABC hosted a similar event, “privilege walk,” last year, and has created other events like it in the past. Wane explained that she, along with other ABC members, felt adversity seemed more welcoming and less judgmental, so they renamed and formatted the event to better fit its new name. The questions were also altered to address not only race but gender, nationality, sexuality. The group also plans on adding religion as a part of their questions at future events. This event also featured a small voluntary discussion for participants after the walk, another new addition for attendees to experience. Wane explained that the experience could be really useful for students and the campus as a whole.

“I participated in one my high school senior year, and I thought it was a really fun event. Because you see people in the hallways every day and it’s not until you’re asked statements like this, that you see like ‘wow we are very similar,’ in the sense that we have gone through the same things and we have never even thought to talk about them.” Wane and other members of ABC felt giving this experience to college students would allow peers to evaluate adversity on campus, creating a new experience for them.

While Wane is a graduating senior, she expressed that she was confident that these events would continue for several years after she has left. In fact, the group plans on hosting a second adversity walk this semester during unity week, and is already having discussions about hosting one at next year's welcome week.