Department of Social Work hosts diversity demonstration on the plaza Thursday

Megan Fischer

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Photos by Megan Fischer.

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With chants, signs and a march through main campus, Colorado State University’s School of Social Work worked on educating about privilege during a demonstration Thursday. A march and demonstration was held on the Lory Student Center Plaza.

“I define privilege as having a head start and having certain benefits that you didn’t have to work for, that you were born with or you retain without having to work for them, while other people who don’t have privilege have to work harder for those things,” said Alexis Loutzenhiser a junior social work major and a volunteer at the demonstration.

Written on signs in bubble letters were phrases that defined privilege, marginalization and the difference between the two. A recent opinion column published in the Collegian brought attention to the topic.

“I haven’t had to work that hard to go to college because my parents were able to help me pay for it, but other people don’t have that benefit,” Loutzenhiser said.

Video by Kay Bennet and Karsen Buschjost.

Students within the department planned the event, and the Social Work Committee for Diversity and Human Rights helped with the remaining responsibilities of the demonstration.

“There was an article about white privilege, and it upset a few people because it didn’t fully capture the spectrum of what it means to have privilege and not have privilege,” said Emma Reust, a social work major and member of the CSU Social Work Committee for Diversity and Human Rights. “You can have privilege in certain identities and you can not have it in others.”

Reust said it is important for everyone to recognize that some people might be working harder than others to get to the same place.

“As a woman, I can’t walk as safely at night as freely as a man might because that’s a privilege they have,” Reust said.

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The purpose of the demonstration was to educate on privilege and how it relates to different identities, said Marie Villescas-Zamzow, an instructor in the Department of Social Work.

“Some of my identities may be more privileged, and some might be more marginalized,” Villescas-Zamzow said. “The idea of privilege isn’t that you are or you’re not, it’s a spectrum, and some people have more of it and some people have less of it.”

Villescas-Zamzow said that learning about privilege and who has what privileges isn’t enough.

“The next step is to become an ally,” Villescas-Zamzow said. “Instead of feeling guilt or blame or shame, being empowered by the fact that you may have these wonderful gifts in your life and use that to help create social justice so that everybody can have a better chance.”

Student resource groups set up tables at the demonstration to allow for students to connect with organizations, should they want to connect with a student resource group on campus.

“The students were just worried that students at CSU were in this wonderful institution but not getting the needed education about diversity, so it was their decision to create a day to battle all of those not-knowings and lack of education around the topic,” Villescas-Zamzow said. “They would like to help teach people that within every person, we all have multiple social identities.”

Collegian Reporter Megan Fischer can be reached at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @MegFischer04.