East Tennessee State University’s first annual Privilege Walk, which has been going on every other Thursday since Feb. 2, continued this week with the topic of women.
The walk aims to focus on overlapping areas of privilege and marginalization in a safe space.
Previous walks included discussing privilege in relation to religion, race and sexuality with a different facilitator for each event.
The walk takes place on the second floor of the ETSU D.P. Culp Center in the Multicultural Center from 12-1 p.m.
The idea for this event came after the Slocumb Galleries Art and Design department attended the Safe Zone training session, which was designed to develop allies for the LGBTQ community on campus.
There was concern that students had no place to process anxieties over certain political events other than from their circle of friends and family, who are not always going to be supportive.
“By understanding privilege, one becomes more aware of its implications,” said the event coordinator and Director of Slocumb Galleries, Karlota Contreras-Koterbay. “By understanding it, they can analyze current policies that involve them with more critical awareness that foster empowered, more educated reaction to situations.”
As the walk begins, attendees hold hands in a circle and move forward or backward as questions in regards to privilege are read.
Hands begin to break away as more and more diversity becomes apparent.
“We tend to take things for granted,” Koterbay said. “The visuality of breaking of bonds while holding hands when others move forward and leave others behind tends to provide some reaction or even guilt.”
As the walk comes to an end, an in-depth discussion takes place in the Multicultural Center.
Students and faculty alike discuss the varying privileges the individuals had or did not have.
Others discuss things they did not realize they took for granted, such as physical abilities like walking.
According to Koterbay, these discussions can be both therapeutic and comforting to individuals who attend the walk.
Should the event continue next year, it will most likely take place during the spring to fall in with Civility Month and other group-focused events like Black History Month.
While the privilege walk has typically occurred every other week, there will be another walk this upcoming Thursday, March 23.
The event has three more walks coming up from this upcoming Thursday to April 27.
March 23 will discuss social and political justice with the Student Government Association and the Honors College Student Council as facilitators.
April 13 will be facilitated by the Department of Sustainability. It will focus on the environment and the economy.
The final walk on April 27 will focus on disability and mental health, and will be facilitated by a variety of groups, including the Counseling Center.