By Chris Gionta
On Sunday evening, under the tent outside of Cheney Dining Hall, the mood seemed very light. Pop music rang out of the speakers, and at the entry table, “SGA” was spelled out in bright, silver balloons. However, the subject at hand was nothing to be too festive about.
The event was called “Checking Your Blindspots”, and it is the kickoff to Springfield College’s SEAT at the Table week, which is self-described as “a conference of educational experiences across media, pedagogies, and practices, dedicated to deconstructing oppressive systems and transforming our community toward equity for all.”
The idea behind “Checking Your Blindspots” was to discuss the issues that are not as obvious, and to talk about things that are sometimes uncontrollable.
“SGA knew that they wanted to do something for SEAT week,” said Paris Lizana, whose name headlined the event.
“Students usually learn from their peers and so we knew it was important to contribute to this program. And, the topic is checking your biases and we think that this is important because biases are something that every human has. It can be conscious or unconscious, so we wanted to center the fair around different types of biases and how you can combat those biases,” she said.
The event had several stations talking about different controllable and uncontrollable biases that are common in society. Most stations had QR codes that would link an attendee to educational videos.
One station was called “Wake-Up Calls” where an attendee could scan a QR code and be sent to a YouTube channel with eight different stories from anonymous Springfield College students, mostly ranging from 30 to 60 seconds, about uncomfortable experiences based on race.
A lot of the stories were on the basis of people being unaware that they were making the other person uncomfortable, matching the theme of the event.
Other stations had QR codes that linked to videos about different types of biases. One that was highlighted was confirmation bias, which is a very broad type of partisanship that can be used for anything.
“I expect attendees to walk away learning new information on how they’re able to acknowledge, analyze, and fight off their conscious and unconscious biases,” said Lizana. “And I hope that they share this information with their peers, and they use this as they go about their daily lives.”
Attendees were surely introduced to new perspectives from this event. Since a lot of the biases pointed out were subconscious, some attendees came to realizations with themselves.
“I know certainly with myself that there are things that I want to believe that may not be true,” said Alex Ricard, an attendee of the event. “There are definitely things that I want to be true to make me feel more comfortable, but sometimes, it’s just not the case.”
With experiences like Ricard’s occurring at this SEAT at the Table event, the organization seemed to have met their goals.
“I think it’s a new idea to everybody,” said Hannah Medeiros, another organizer of the event. “It was a new idea to me and kind of just helping organize this event, I’ve learned a lot, and I think we have a lot of good information and a lot of new information that people have to see.”
The event seemed to be an educational experience for anyone who wanted to participate, and it may have been even more helpful because it was student-run.
“I do think that students are more susceptible to information that they learn from their peers,” Lizana said. “It’s not that we’re not in a learning environment because you learn things every day, but I do think that learning from your peers is something that people take more to heart, because those are the people that they hang out with every day.”
Sunday’s event was just the beginning for SEAT at the Table. All week, workshops will be underway to help better educate those on campus with issues involving inclusion, diversity and more.
Photo Courtesy of Springfield College Office of Multicultural Affairs