The second annual Springfield College (S)ocial justice, (E)quity, (A)ccountability (T)ransformation at the Table Week took place from Oct. 17 through Oct. 24, with this year's format allowing for a combination of in person and virtual formatting.
With more than 35 sessions from which to choose this year, participants were able to select from a variety of sessions focused on important issues. The week-long panel discussions and interactive workshops offered educational experiences across media, pedagogies, and practices, dedicated to deconstructing oppressive systems and transforming our community toward equity for all. The SEAT at the Table Week is organized by members of the Office of Multicultural Affairs and the Collaborative Council.
History of SEAT at the Table
Summer 2020 was filled with many emotions, but for Black, Indigenous, and people of color, specifically for those who identify as Black/African American, it was traumatic. During these moments, the Office of Multicultural Affairs (OMA) staff jumped into action to come up with a 2020 fall semester plan to approach what was happening in the country. This plan included creation of an extensive diversity conference called (S)ocial justice (E)quity (A)ccountability (T)ransformation (SEAT) at the Table Week. Charisse DelVecchio, OMA graduate assistant; Felicia Lundquist, director of OMA; and Luther Wade, Class of 2021, got together to talk about the planning process and the impact they’ve seen from SEAT at the Table Week.
“The OMA staff established a Collaborative Council of faculty, staff, and students around campus. Collaborative Council members met biweekly throughout the fall semester to support conference organizing by helping with advertising and outreach, providing feedback, sharing ideas, and recruiting presenters and volunteers,” DelVecchio said. “The Collaborative Council members collected student feedback about what topics should be addressed during SEAT at the Table Week, and prioritized outreach to community members who could facilitate sessions on those topics.”
Following the success of SEAT at the Table in the Fall of 2020, once again at the start of the 2021 Fall semester, presenters submitted session proposals for this year's event. Session criteria required remained that every session addressed a system of oppression. This conference provided a space for students, faculty and staff, and community members to come together to learn, listen, process, and make a change.
“In short, I do want to express that I am extremely pleased and proud of our staff, students, and collaborative commUNITY who helped to offer a deeper understanding of advocacy, activism, and the value of academic freedom as it pertains to scholarship," said Lundquist. "I was both excited and pleased to see the development of social change leadership and the risks our change agents and scholars took, particularly student scholars to highlight and offer perspective around awareness raising, systemic oppression, institutional racism, environmental justice, activism, advocacy, allyship/accompliceship, to name a few.”
Lundquist added, “Moreover, a SEAT at the Table offered both a platform and an opportunity for ‘underrepresented’ offices and historically marginalized individuals to be more visible with amplified voices; simultaneously calling attention to growing movements such as BLM, the importance of mental health, access, diversity, inclusion, and equity while making social justice advocacy a clearer presence in the pursuit of empowering folks, building and/or constructing knowledge, and cultivating social change.”
The second annual SEAT at the Table started on Oct. 17, 2021 with the following presentations:
Land Acknowledgement and Opening Remarks
Xavier Washington, Xavier Gibson, Brianna D'Haiti, and Lexie Blake
Remarks from the Collaborative Council and nominated student speakers. Student speakers Xavier Washington, Xavier Gibson, Brianna D'Haiti, and Lexie Blake were selected to speak with the opening remarks and reflect on what SEAT at the Table means to them.
System Change in Higher Education: Lack of Feedback Loops
Students and faculty took part in a session that focused on the difficulties of addressing racism and sexism within an educational system.
Across the Lifespan: Patients and providers
A panel discussion on health inequities faced by the LGBTQIA+ community.
Julia Chevan, Alexandra MacPherson, Rachel Wetnick, Russell Allen, and Kiki Li
There is a long history of individuals who identify as LGBTQIA+ having negative encounters with health professionals and the health care system. LGBTQIA+ individuals are more likely to experience discrimination, social isolation, and unethical health care that can impact their health status. Not only was homosexuality a crime in the past, it also was listed as a diagnosis in the American Psychology Association Diagnostic and Statistical Manual and thus approaching a health professional, even during an acute health care need, can feel threatening to LGBTQIA+ community members.
The aim of this presentation provided a deeper education and understanding for audience members about the health and health care disparities and unethical experiences lived and faced by those in the LGBTQIA+ community and to propose solutions. Progress has been made in recent years, however, older and younger generations continue to face bias, inequity, and solitude. The perspective from older generations facing elder abuse and premature death is also intended to spread awareness and promote advocacy for a lifespan approach that will positively impact the health care experiences of all LGBTQIA+ populations young and old.
Promoting Diversity and Inclusion Through Dialogue: Exploring Our Identities
In this interactive workshop, participants engaged in experiential activities that helped them gain a deeper understanding of their own and others’ identities. Grounded in a dialogic pedagogical approach, this workshop helped participants deepen their understanding of concepts related to diversity, inclusion, and identity. At the end of the session, participants developed a greater awareness of the multifaceted nature of their own (and others’) identity. They explored how dialoguing about difference can help us identify areas of common ground to bridge those differences and embrace diversity as a strength. Participants also were able to critically reflect on how they might better support others to show up as their full authentic self and be more inclusive in their everyday interactions.
On Monday, Oct. 18, the Springfield College SEAT at the Table continued on with the following sessions:
Addressing the Crisis in Our Nation's Mental Care System: Challenges for Springfield College
Researchers at Springfield College have recently completed a research project to increase mental health care and other allied professionals' understanding of the serious crisis in our country's mental health. This presentation was intentionally designed to illuminate the relevance of this crisis for persons committed to promote social justice in our world. The participants took away new knowledge into the crisis in our nation's mental health care system; new awareness of the ways that racism, sexism, classism, and ableism are perpetuated in this crisis; specific suggestions/recommendations to address this complex and harmful crisis; and strategies that the Springfield College community can implement to address this crisis in ways that support the mental health of diverse persons in need in our local, state, and national communities.
Inclusive Programming Strategies: An interactive experience
Rachel Keyworth and Nicole Wassell
This session was an interactive simulation that highlights strategies for designing inclusive programming for people of all abilities. The session hopes to inspire others to think broadly, ask questions, consistently improve their awareness of inclusive opportunities, and spark creativity to find ways to adapt for others to become agents of change.
What Momma and Daddy Can Know: Conditional love in the Black community
Tanisha Arena and Tenise Monterio
Participants were able to see, name, and challenge the replication of superiority and dominance in the Black community through an examination of the influence of the Black church on the conditional love we offer one another.
Culture, Society, and Abnormal Psychology
PSYC 221-13 Abnormal Psychology class
Our Abnormal Psychology class presented on: Homelessness and Mental Health, Mass Incarceration and Intergenerational Trauma, Gender, Sexuality, and the DSM, Juvenile Detention and Mental Health, and Discrimination and Other Barriers to Mental Health Care.
Attendees gained an understanding of one aspect of Black culture. Hopefully, learning about hair opened minds to how hair discrimination relates to race discrimination in the larger campus community. Attendees learned facts about the reality of hair discrimination, why natural hair means so much to the Black community. Additionally, they gained real, valuable, and practical ways to call out hair discrimination when they see it and tangible ways to improve their college campus or community at large. Attendees should inspire as they learned information that is going to enrich their lives and the lives of those around them.
SEAT at the Table continued on Tuesday, Oct. 19 with seven individual sessions, including a combination of in-person and Zoom.
The following sessions occurred on Tuesday, Oct. 19:
A Nation in Peril: How Springfield College can address the crisis in our nation
Those persons participating in this presentation took away the following: (1) new knowledge about the complex psychological, economic, social, and moral underpinnings of the current threat to democracy and peace in our country; (2) new insights related to the physical and mental health impact of the current threats in our nation; and (3) encouragement to implement the non-violent strategies/interventions outlined by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. among Springfield College faculty members, administrators, and students to ameliorate the threats to democracy and peace in our society.
The Springfield College Journey of Racial Awakening
Calvin Hill and Mary-Beth Cooper
This session served as the launching point of a comprehensive research project, which will seek to tell the story of our current and historical commitment to becoming a diverse, equitable, and inclusive campus. During this session, attendees explored demographic trends, campus data, and look back at past efforts the College has made to increase its campus diversity, and to foster a sense of community. Historical data was presented, along with employee and alumni narratives in acknowledgment that some prior efforts may be unknown to many, and that not all efforts have met the intended diversity, equity, and inclusion outcomes.
The Intersection of Contemporary Music and Social Politics in America
Paris Lizana and Chris Gagne
Attendees explored the ways in which contemporary music confronts the political realities of our time, and also consider examples of music being used for political gains that may run counter to the intentions of the artists. The primary focus of the conversation was about music of the past five years, but the discussion also extended well into the past for context and scope. As part of the conversation, attendees listened to, analyzed, and discussed a handful of relevant songs that contain themes of sociopolitical activism.
Encouraging Allyship and Bystander Intervention in Diverse Environments
Ayanna C. Crawford
The goal of this presentation was able to use the helpful tools and language to help with encouraging allyship and bystander interventions in diverse environments.
This was a beginner class for capoeira, a Brazilian martial art that combines elements of dance, acrobatics, and music. Attendees started at the basics of Capoeira with the ginga, basic dodges and kicks, as well as some beginner acrobatics and other movements. Attendees trained as a group, and also in pairs, with proper social distancing. The class also included a musical component, where attendees learned and played capoeira songs and discussed the history of capoeira through music, which is an integral part of the style and culture.
Restorative and Transformative Justice: An introduction to re-framing communities
This introductory session allowed participants to reflect on their own experiences with punitive systems and how those have impacted them. Participants moved into conversations about restorative and transformative justice. Attendees engaged in conversations, activities, and reflections that allow us to envision communities that are both mutually supportive and accountable.
Nathalie Beltran Vargas
The goal of this program was to educate people about linguistic discrimination and some of the problems multilingual people have to go through because of having an accent. Certain accents are considered to be beautiful and exotic while others are not. It is for this reason that we must educate ourselves to prevent biases and become allies. One section of the program was dedicated to learning what linguistic profiling is and some of the consequences that it has. Also, attendees discussed what code-switching is and some of the mental health consequences that this has on people’s daily experiences. Another major portion of the program was dedicated towards evaluating how common linguistic discrimination is in social media, institutions, and at work settings, and some of the things we can do to tackle this issue.
SEAT at the Table continued on Wednesday, Oct. 20 with five individual sessions, including a combination of in-person and Zoom.
The following sessions occurred on Wednesday, Oct. 20:
A Fate Worse Than Death: Examining common tropes around disability as inspiration
Sara Scribner and Brianna Dickens
In this session, attendees engaged around common tropes found in society and popular media around disability, centered around the common theme of disability as inspiration. The session supported attendees in a critical examination of tropes using media and explore a disability as diversity perspective.
Why Gatekeeping Keeps Change Prospects Out of Conversations
Paris Lizana and Chelsea Harris
Gatekeeping is the act of restricting or limiting access to something. In our very social society, members of communities, whether it be spirituality, veganism, political groups, conversations on race, music, LGBTQ+, etc., sometimes participate in gatekeeping, which exclude potential allies or members from joining conversations that need everyone to be included in order to create the change these communities seek. This session helped attendees understand the differences between protecting and gatekeeping, the negative effects of gatekeeping, and how we can engage everyone in these much-needed conversations.
Culture, Society, and Abnormal Psychology
PSYC 221-13 Abnormal Psychology class
The Springfield College abnormal psychology class presented on a variety of topics, including: Mental Health and the Trans Community, Policing and Community Mental Health, Sexual Violence and Mental Health, Men, Masculinity, and Mental Health, and Gender, Sexuality, and the DSM.
We're Not Really Strangers
Sarah McNicholas and Brianna Kirk
In this session, participants were paired with a stranger or someone they don't know well. They were given three cards, each a different level of depth in connection. They answered the questions getting to know each other deeper as the conversation went on. At the end of their questions they wrote each other a note that they cannot read until after they have left each other. The goal was to have students connect with new peers while building deeper connections than usual. There is also a hope that this session opened their eyes so that they can all find connections to one another, we just have to start the conversation.
Queer Culture in Athletics
Lily Gould and Grace Dzindolet
We will have a presentation of terms of LGBTQ+ terminology. The terms will be interconnected to events in athletics culture, such as locker room talk and how coming out may be different in terms of being an athlete and how campus can better serve and support them. It is a different perspective that everyone will benefit from because being a part of athletics is quite common on this campus, but we all may know someone who has not yet come out. With the right tools, we will know how to call out bias incidents and report them, and make sure everyone is living their truest selves.
SEAT at the Table continued on Thursday, Oct. 21 with eight individual sessions, including a combination of in-person and Zoom.
The following sessions occurred on Thursday, Oct. 21:
Post-historical Trauma and Contemporary Art
This session overviewed post-historical trauma, post-slavery syndrome, and artists whose art represent these issues. The presenter discussed her journey in understanding post-historical trauma. Participants now understand how post-historical trauma affects us and discover artists whose art not only represents these issues but increases awareness.
What's All This Talk About Critical Race Theory?
Stephanie Logan and Justine Dymond
The banning of Critical Race Theory (CRT) has become a talking point of many commentators, politicians, and parents at local school boards. The opposition to CRT is a part of a movement to counteract the collective protest and actions that took place during the summer of 2020 and the changing demographics in the United States. This session provided an introduction to CRT, background on the current anti-CRT movement, and discussion about strategies for supporting educators and communities in teaching the truth about the country's past and present.
Building Trans and Queer Community: A group dialogue on safe and brave intersectional spaces
Grayson Stevens and Zev Spiegel
This session aimed to foster trans and queer community on campus by uplifting the voices of TGNC students and their experiences with holding intentional and meaningful space. The goal was to have participants leave having engaged with each other’s unique experiences of building safe and brave communal spaces. We define “safe” as a space in which an individual can freely exist as their full, authentic self, and “brave” as a space in which an individual can feel compelled to expand their comfort zone and challenge their own biases and assumptions. The goal was to hold this type of space in order to discuss what these types of spaces necessitate, specifically within higher education environments. It is the hope that a dialogue such as this will encourage collaboration and community amongst participants.
How Faith, Spirituality, and Vocational Discernment Can Assist Students to Succeed in College and in Life
Donald Brown, Jacquelyn Waters, and Catharine Cummings
This session explored how faith, spirituality, and vocational discernment can assist students to succeed in college and in life. During this session, attendees explored terminology, concepts of vocation, personal and lived experiences, personal bridges and barriers experienced, and ways we have integrated and enhanced faith and vocation with our ongoing work while on a path pursuing and living out one's vocation.
Conceptualizing Mental Health in Higher Education: Exploring environmental, social, historical, and cultural differences and the impact on student well-being
Felicia Lundquist, Colleen Brown, Alijah Gonzalez, and Mikayah Rushinski
Ever wonder which influences impact our Springfield College students' ability to seek out support specifically for mental health and well-being? Grounded in critical theory, critical pedagogy (a teaching philosophy that invites educators to encourage students to critique structures of power and oppression), while using the four I's of oppression and intersectionality as frameworks, presenters explored (1) individual, interpersonal, and institutional level factors that are associated with overall mental health among college students; and (2) the complexity of identity, the disparities in mental health among different identity groups, and the relationship between the environmental, social, historical and cultural differences that influence the Springfield College student experience related to mental health.
Using a study that investigates the influences that impact our Springfield College students' ability to seek out support specifically for mental health and well-being, this session (1) highlighted the increased demand and importance of student mental health, and need for equity and inclusiveness in mental health care; (2) examined the stigma attached to mental health; (3) reviewed data and analyze research on mental health services and the students who seek mental health and well-being services on campuses; and (4) offered resources and action steps that “we” can take to better support the overall emotional well-being.
Women’s Empowerment (sponsored by the Student Government Association)
Jennifer Charlera, Danielle Fernandes, and Dominique Chaves
This session was about women's empowerment and awareness of breast cancer month. Women have been oppressed for so long and participants wanted to share and celebrate the amazing things they do for us. In Cheney Hall, different booths about showing women support, donation boxes to help with gaining women's independence in different parts of the world, information on programs where we can help, and programs we can be a part of or create were set up. Inspirational spoken word poems and music were played around Cheney, all created by influential women. Sticker and pamphlets were handed out to show support.
Supporting and advocating for diverse peoples in a professional setting
Brianna Violante and John Cipora
Brianna Violante, second-year Master of Mental Health Counseling student, with input from Department of Education faculty member John Cipora, discussed how we can show our diverse co-workers, students, colleagues, and families that they are valued and respected. Attendees also talked about how words have an impactful meaning and how we can refrain from stereotypes and premeditated biases.
Discussion on Classism
Student Society for Bridging Diversity
There was a presentation on classism along with discussion questions. Attendees then engaged in the privilege walk activity to understand more of the topic and be hands on with the audience. Next, attendees handed out resources to people to take home and educate others.
SEAT at the Table continued on Friday, Oct. 22 with five individual sessions, including a combination of in-person and Zoom.
The following sessions occurred on Friday, Oct. 22:
Asian Americans: In a unique position to fight for racial equality
Asian Americans hold a unique position within the fight for racial equality. We are not white, yet we have not been systematically and continually oppressed as some other groups have been in this country. Although Asian Americans have certainly experienced violence and discrimination, they have also been historically labeled as the “Model Minority.” This workshop focused on ideas, solutions, and actions Asian Americans can take, using this unique position of being neither white nor Black.
Researching race: Reflections and negotiations
Mara Simon, Cory Dixon, and Korey Boyd
The following research team consisted of two Black male scholars and one white female scholar who each engaged in race-based work within education, specifically the subfield of physical education. The purpose of this presentation was to present the “data” from a series of recorded conversations collected during a six-month period as they worked together to analyze, write, and present a specific data set focused on the experiences of Black and Latinx pre-service teachers. They presented the “data” from conversations, as they relinquished comfortability to grapple with what it means to do race-related research as both Black and white researchers, and how people grew and developed as scholars from the conversations. Using Critical Race Theory and Critical Whiteness Studies as the theoretical lenses, the team reflected on the racialized lived experiences in (and out of) the academy for the two Black researchers and explored negotiations of whiteness, with all its privileges, disruptions, and discomforts, from the white researcher. Finally, the team considered the intersections of our identities in one collective research space to make recommendations for education regarding curriculum, pedagogy, scholarship, administration, mentorship, and networking.
Ally Space: What it’s like to be an LGBTQ+ student by the Springfield College Gender and Sexuality Alliance
Lexie Blake, Emily Tonning, Kayden DeFriesse, Caelan Carlough, and Lily Gould
The purpose of this panel-style program was to hear directly from LGBTQ+ student leaders on campus. They answered questions such as: What is it like to identify as a queer woman on campus? What is it like to identify as a trans person on campus? What is it like to be a queer athlete? What are some experiences you have had on campus or at your time in college, positive or negative, that were a result of your gender or sexual identity? The panel answered questions and built a better understanding of perspectives as LGBTQ+ Springfield College students.
Talking Out of Line
This session covered Talking Out of Line, a multimedia project that has been developed to create a platform for conversation that focuses on intersectional social justice, diversity, equity, and inclusion. The session brought together a diverse array of guests to chat, share, and create transformative collaborations for sustained social justice. The session introduced different ways in which Springfield College community members can get involved to support and grow this platform. This is the website for the project: https://www.talkingoutofline.com.
Gender Messaging and Masculinity: The mask you live ln
Allie Burdick and Men of Excellence
In this session, there was a screening of the documentary The Mask You Live In (download the film) that talked about gender messaging for men and boys and how destructive it is for all of us, what can be done, and how each of us can contribute to changing the script. A discussion and Q&A was held after the screening.
SEAT at the Table continued on Saturday, Oct. 23 with three individual sessions, including a combination of in-person and Zoom.
The following sessions occurred on Saturday, Oct. 23:
My Community Does Not Look Like Me
How do we create relationships that empower and sustain each others' identities? Each person is more than a single story. Participants explored the concepts and constructs of identity and culture. Participants learned and discussed what it means to be culturally responsive and sustaining within relationships. Participants participated in activities designed to promote cultural strengths and learned strategies to create democratic and pluralistic spaces for all human beings.
Mexican Folk Dance
Andrea Vazquez-Aguirre Kaufmann
This dance is one of the most popular in the region of Andalusia in the southern coast of Spain. The sevillana is danced at any form of get-together, whether it is the feria, a wedding, or at a family party, where all present can join in. It is performed to a strict three-quarter rhythm and will be danced by pairs or groups of people. There are many different styles of sevillana, such as sevillanas boleras, corraleras, biblicas, rocieras, and marineras. Students learned two of the four traditional variations.
Gender Awareness in Health Care
The goal of this session was to raise awareness regarding gender stereotypes in health care. For example, when you hear the term “nurse,” most people automatically think of a female, or when you hear “doctor,” most people think of a male. The discussion focused on the adversities that male health care professionals have to endure in a predominantly female medical role (e.g. nursing, obstetrics, and gynecology, etc.)
SEAT at the Table concluded with the following presentation on Sunday, Oct. 24:
Circle Process: The art of coming together to address harm and impact in our communities
In order to attend, participants must have attended the Tuesday, Oct. 19 session on “Restorative and Transformative Justice: An introduction to re-framing communities”.
This deep and interactive session will equip participants with foundational skills, knowledge, awareness, and language to begin facilitating restorative/ transformative justice circles and conversations. This session went into circle guidelines, question posing, holding boundaries, and what calling in looks like. This session was for someone who is interested and committed to dismantling systems of punitive justice and is willing to put in the work of re-imagining communities and co-creating opportunities for mutual support and accountability.