Unpacking baggage at the Provost’s Diversity Research Forum

Baggage performance

Baggage Claim performance

This past week I participated in the Provost’s Diversity Research Forum: “Privilege & Prejudice: Assumptions in Learning.” As sad as it is to say, this was the first time I’d been in the First People’s House. The Ceremonial Hall smells like warm cedar wood and felt like a mother’s embrace, (seriously check it out).

I hadn’t thought about my experience with prejudice before attending the event – I’m pretty lucky, so why worry? I had done a complete 180 on my thoughts of privilege and prejudices in learning by the end of the two-day event.

The opening reception featured a performance by the Faculty of Fine Arts called, “Baggage Claim.” The piece, we found out afterward, was an accumulation of each of the performers experiences with prejudice in their lives. The audience was invited to comment on the performance and most responded, in turn, with their experiences with discrimination.

The next day I attended two really great panels, “Navigating Gender and Sexual Diversity in Learning Environments” and “No More Stolen Indigenous Sisters: A Renewal of Hope.”

Gender diversity panel

Gender diversity panel

The first panel I attended was, “Navigating Gender and Sexual Diversity in Learning Environments.” I was shocked to hear many of the professors had experienced prejudice in the classroom. I’d always imagined professors as these impressive figures who weren’t phased by anything. I was blown away by the amount of courage these distinguished members of the UVic community had in telling their stories.

Maureen Bradley, of the Department of Writing showed us a bit of her film, “Two 4 One,” which looks fantastic and hilarious. The film will be playing on February 14th at the Odeon and February 15th at the Vic Theatre— you should go check it out, I’m definitely going to.

One thought stuck out with me during the day’s discussions. The idea was that we only discuss guidelines for privilege & prejudice on the first day of class and then move on. I would hate to feel like I couldn’t express myself in class because of my gender, race or sexual orientation. The sad truth is, some people do feel like this. Everyone should have a positive experience while learning and growing, no matter what their “baggage” is.

sign in First Peoples House

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