Freshmen study 'power and privilege' at social justice 'academy'

Suffolk University in Boston offers new first-year students an “extended transition program” after orientation where they can learn about “social justice” and “power and privilege.”

The “Ram Academy” program is described on the school’s website as “a unique way to learn more, go further, & really connect with the Suffolk experience” by working with “experienced student leaders, staff, and other first-year students” [emphasis in original].

There are four Ram Academy offerings, each one dealing with a different topic, including “leadership,” “Boston’s arts & culture community,” and “service & community engagement.” In addition, students may participate in a three-day Ram Academy on the subject of “multiculturalism & social justice.”

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According to the university’s website, the social justice Ram Academy “provides students with an opportunity to explore the concept of social justice,” and seeks to provide a forum where students can “become catalysts for social, political, and environmental change in their communities.”

Participants in the training will discuss “individual and group identity issues,” “learn about support services and opportunities to engage with social justice at Suffolk,” and “develop a network of support” among their peers and instructors.

In addition, students are expected to emerge from the program with “greater awareness regarding gender, race, sexuality, socioeconomic class, ability, and power and privilege.”

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“Registration for the #SocialJustice Ram Academy is up!” the SU Diversity Services office tweeted on June 28. “Come learn about #diversity & #activism with us!”

“Be a leader & change agent by registering for Social Justice Ram Academy with @SUDiversity,” Suffolk’s Orientation and New Student Programs (ONSP) account chimed in a few days later.

Students who wish to participate in the social justice Ram Academy must pay a $40 registration fee, although waivers are available for those who can demonstrate “financial hardship.”

The fee covers overnight accommodations at the Barbara C. Harris camp (where the academy is held), as well as transportation, meals, and all program activities.

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Suffolk University Diversity Services offers several other social justice workshops in addition to the Ram Academy, including one titled, “Race, Racism, and Privilege” that promises to “expand participants’ definitions of race and racism beyond Black vs. White by challenging the social construction of race and ethnicity and exploring how certain groups of immigrants ‘became white.’”

Another workshop, dubbed “Introduction to Diversity and Social Justice,” provides “an introduction to social justice, power, privilege, oppression, access, and intersectionality,” with special attention paid to “the intersections of race, class, ability, sexual orientation, gender identity/expression.”

A third workshop, “Safe Zone,” focuses on increasing awareness on “key issues” in the LGBT community, such as “queerphobia, privilege, heterosexism, cissexism, and ally development.” Specialized Safe Zone trainings are also available, including, “Safe Zone: Trans 101, Safe Zone: Bi, Pan, and Fluid Identities, and Safe Zone: Queer and Trans People of Color.”

Campus Reform reached out to Suffolk University Diversity Services for comment, but did not receive a response in time for publication.

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @rMitchellGunter