Student Senate members to target white privilege issues
February 25, 2010
The UW-River Falls student senate will be sending up to five students to the 11th annual White Privilege Conference (WPC) from April 7-10 in La Crosse, Wis. The conference serves as a yearly opportunity to examine and explore difficult issues related to white privilege, white supremacy and oppression, according to the event’s Web site.
There is expected to be approximately 1,500 people from 40 states who represent numerous sectors of our workforce, and include high school and college students, grass roots activists, educators, members of the spiritual community, musicians and artists, according to the Web site.
“White privilege is the concept that simply because one is Caucasian, there are inherent benefits within the framework of our society,” Student Senate Representative Lee Monson said.”The conference attempts to make its attendees aware of this privilege and attempts, through awareness, to heal this rift between peoples.”
The conference’s theme this year is “Health Inequities: Strategies. Action. Liberation.”
The WPC’s mission is to provide a forum for critical discussions about diversity, multicultural education and leadership, social justice, race/racism, sexual orientation, gender relations, religion and other systems of privilege/oppression, according to the Web site.
This conference is about critically examining the society in which we live and working to dismantle systems of power, prejudice, privilege and oppression, according to the Web site.
“It is important to send students to the White Privilege Conference because it is not well known and is a relatively new concept that the students at our university do not quite understand or even realize,” Student Senate Representative Brittany Williams said.
UWRF students are eligible to apply to attend the conference.
Students will be chosen based on the following criteria : campus involvement, leadership potential, diversity experience, enthusiasm/ambition, and individual character. The UWRF Student Senate will sponsor $250 per person, up to five people, to attend the conference. The qualified applicant must agree to pay their own portion of the cost, which is estimated at $100, in addition to travel costs.
They must also prepare a presentation to be given to the Student Senate in open forum, explaining the messages and valuable lessons from the trip within one month of returning, or pay for the Student Senate’s contribution for the trip. In addition, they must prepare or assist in preparing a presentation board of the trip and participants to be displayed in the Student Senate office for publicity of the trip.
They must also agree to represent the University and its students with dignity and professionalism, according to the Student Senate flyer advertising the conference.
“The five people that will be sent to this conference will be expected not only to further their own awareness, but to bring the knowledge they acquire from the conference back to campus,” Monson said. “How that knowledge is dispersed will depend largely on the campus involvement of the selected students, but a general presentation on what was learned will be given at a Student Senate meeting following the conference.”
The Student Senate is still working on putting together a search and screen committee.
To supplement the committee and are currently asking certain members of the student leadership and faculty if they would like to take part in the screening process, according to Monson. Applications are due to Senator Brittany Williams at 11:59 p.m. on March 1, and the search and screen committee will meet on the following Wednesday, March 3, to decide on the participants for the conference.