Students attend 'advanced' social justice conference at KU

The University of Kansas recently played host to a four-day conference for 50 undergraduate students with “advanced experience” working on social justice issues.

The “Student Experience” conference, held at KU from July 25-28, was organized by the Social Justice Training Institute (SJTI), which described the event as “an intensive developmental opportunity for students to examine the complex dynamics of oppression and to develop strategies to foster positive change on their campuses and in their communities.”

SJTI has offered similar programming to educators and professionals since 1998, but says it has now “expanded the experience to include an opportunity for students to gather and do some ‘personal work’ related to social justice issues.”

The organization invited 50 students from around the country to participate in the KU event, noting that “this advanced experience is for students who have done a fairly significant amount of work on social justice issues.”

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The application—which prospective participants are only asked to fill out “within [their] comfort level”—probes for a variety of identity-related information, as well as asking students to expound upon their previous social justice experience.

In addition to specifying their race/ethnicity, for instance, students are asked to supply their gender identity, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, ability/disability, and “any other socio-cultural identity group membership you feel is relevant.”

Applicants are also asked to specify the “areas of diversity and social justice” in which they “most need to grow and learn,” as well as how they hope to apply the lessons from the conference in their homes or college/university communities.

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The KU Office of Multicultural Affairs (OMA) enthusiastically promoted the SJTI event through its Twitter account, saying, “We are pleased to host Student SJTI this summer!” and encouraging students to visit the SJTI website for more info.

Several OMA employees, including Director Precious Porras and Associate Director for Diversity Education and Social Justice Cody Charles, were also featured in a photo depicting faculty preparing for the event.

Campus Reform reached out to KU for comment, but did not receive a response by press time.

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