Vassar teaches freshmen to 'appreciate social justice'

Incoming freshmen at Vassar College will be required to complete a series of diversity-themed workshops as part of their new-student orientation.

In fact, an explicit goal of this year’s New Student Orientation is to help students begin “engaging and appreciating social justice,” noting that students will embark on “the journey towards self-awareness, community awareness, and appreciation of and support for a diversity of experiences, interests, beliefs, identities, and abilities.”

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During the expansive 15-day orientation, which the school has confirmed is mandatory, students will attend three workshops in a “We are Vassar, I am Vassar, You are Vassar” series, which focus “on celebrating identities and affirming belongingness within our communities.”

The series will take a total of five hours to complete, and will begin with the “We are Vassar workshop,” which invites students to participate in “an introduction to inclusive language” where they will “explore what can impact our sense of identity and belonging within our community.”

During the next session, students will learn about people “of particular identities, beliefs, and expressions,” while the concluding session will reiterate the school’s commitment to “celebrating identities and affirming belongingness.”

Although Vassar declined to elaborate on the what students will learn during the workshops, the Freshman Handbook touts the school’s Bias Response Team and a robust Campus Life and Diversity Office as examples of Vassar’s dedication to social justice.

Meanwhile, the freshmen orientation will feature numerous exclusive events, such as a dinner for “first-generation, low income, and/or undocumented students,” plus an “LGBT Center Open House” and a “Women’s Center Open House.”

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“New student orientation at Vassar is a collaborative effort among faculty, staff, and administration to promote community building and intellectual and cultural exchange,” Susan DeKrey, an official with the school’s media relations office, told Campus Reform, though she neglected to elaborate further on the substance of the orientation programs.

“Toward this end, orientation engages a wide range of divergent perspectives and lived experiences,” she added.“The program is built on opportunities for first year students to learn how to engage a community that values, among other things, informed and independent thinking and respectful debate and engaged citizenship.”

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