Minnesota West invites community to participate in a privilege walk
A privilege walk isn’t about making people feel bad about having or not having one kind of privilege or another, but it’s about helping people realize that sometimes, the environment someone grows up in can deeply affect them.
WORTHINGTON — Students are returning to Minnesota West Community & Technical College for the fall semester, starting with BlueJay Days, and the community is invited to participate in a new event — a privilege walk — at either 11 a.m. or noon on Aug. 25 at the Center for Health & Wellness on the Worthington campus.
“It’s more of a thought-provoking activity,” said Roxanne Hayenga, diversity activity coordinator at the Worthington campus of Minnesota West.
Participants will spend about 15 minutes doing a simple group activity intended to help them learn about some of the many ways people can have or not have privilege, and how aspects of a person's life that they don't choose can affect them or those around them.
A privilege walk isn’t about making people feel bad about having or not having one kind of privilege or another, but it’s about helping people realize that sometimes, the environment someone grows up in can deeply affect them, Hayenga said.
“It’s more like things that are a part of you that you had no control over,” she explained.
While those things do include race, gender and wealth, they also include plenty of other factors.
For example, someone growing up in a dysfunctional family environment might not realize that other families are different. They may not even know that not everyone else goes through the same kinds of challenges or experiences.
“I want the students to think about things,” said Hayenga, noting that it could offer them a different perspective on what became important or valuable to them.
Some students may have a language barrier; others may be the first in their families to go to college. Some students never had to worry about where their next meal was coming from; others may have gotten through high school while homeless.
When a student comes onto a college campus, Hayenga said, they come into contact with people who experienced a different “normal” than they had.
“Many of our students don’t even know that they can be successful in college,” she added. “We’re giving them the tools to either go out into the workforce or go on and get more education.”
Hayenga hopes the community will give the privilege walk a try, too.
“It’s really more about awareness. These are the pieces that make up our community,” she explained.
The event also includes a food truck and games, and local businesses and organizations will have tables out for BlueJay Days offering a variety of treats and snacks.