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SAF lets 12 JCU students attend White Privilege Conference

March 19th, 2009

At predominantly white institutions, diversity sometimes goes unnoticed.

John Carroll University junior James Rudyk heard about a conference that would raise diversity awareness on campus and felt it was important for JCU to attend.

He approached the administration and for the second year in a row,  JCU students will be attending the White Privilege Conference in Memphis, Tenn. on April 1- 4.

More than 30 students applied to attend this conference; the number of students chosen was based on cost.

Eight students attended last year. This year, 12 students will be attending.

Rudyk heard about the conference while attending another diversity discussion last year.

The conference helps students, faculty and staff discuss difficult topics such as white privilege, white supremacy and oppression.

By attending various workshops and lectures the attendees will be immersed in critical discussions about diversity, race, gender and religion.

“John Carroll is predominantly a white institution. That being said, we must be able to understand differences and privileges not just based on race but also gender, age, religion and sexuality.

“Our goal is to create an action plan for the campus to provide workshops, speakers or programming for the University,” said Rudyk.

Rudyk hopes the plan will establish the next steps to accomplish the group’s goals, which they will be able to define after the conference.

The overall strategy is to find ways to promote awareness of white privilege on campus as well as to be ready to present an outline of such goals to the University.

Associate Dean of Students Donna Byrnes and Associate Academic Vice President for Academic Programs and Faculty Diversity Lauren Bowen have been helping Rudyk find funding for this group and make it recognized on campus.

Bowen projects students who attend this conference will bring back what they have learned to the University.

“We expect those who attend the WPC to act on what they learn once they return to campus,” said Bowen.

“That might include raising awareness about white privilege with students who have not yet been challenged to think about it.

“It likely also means working actively to making the campus more culturally competent such that we foster an inclusive and welcoming environment,” she said.

Last year, the Program in Applied Ethics and other University resources helped pay for students to attend the conference.

This year, the trip is being funded by the diversity fund, which exists as a component of the Student Activity Fee.

This fund is available to groups on campus that are seeking ways to improve the diversity on campus.

This money will go toward the conference fee, the flight to and from Memphis, and hotel stay for three nights.

The conference fee per person costs about $170 with discounts offered to college students.

The grand total per student is close to $800 with everything included.