Well, another semester is almost in the books, and I am feeling pretty stressed! With papers piling up and tests looming closer and closer with each passing day I have to say that I’ve begun to question why I am putting myself through all this…torture. So with motivation flagging, I find that recalling what’s meant a lot to me during this school year as a whole gives me the energy to sprint down the homestretch, and co-curricular involvement has provided the most inspiring memories I have to fall back on.
During my first year at CSU I got involved right away. Starting with Cans Around I was able to see what a group of dedicated people can do, we raised an amazing amount of money and food for the Larimer County Food Bank. Knowing that I played a small part in making a pretty sizable difference in Fort Collins feels pretty good.
I also participated in Campus Step Up. Getting the opportunity to talk to others about identity dynamics, and how I can be an ally for people identifying within subordinated identity groups totally changed my perception. I think the most poignant moment that made me reevaluate my views came during an identity circles activity. People with subordinated identities were given the chance to communicate what they needed from allies and talk about the myths and prejudices surrounding their specific identities. The most memorable example came from a person identifying as a woman, she said something to the effect of, “sexual violence against women isn’t a woman’s issue, it is a men’s issue. You need to work with your brothers to end it.” While I know victim blaming and misappropriation of guilt are horrible, I hadn’t thought about sexual assault in this light before, which raises my biggest take away from this event. The point of dominant identities and why they are so powerful lies in the fact that their members don’t have to be conscious of their difference. The privileges and power that come with dominant identities are considered normal and right, whereas the attributes associated with subordinated identities are considered against the norm and to a certain extent wrong. So by simply being more aware of the power and privilege I enjoy–power and privilege I haven’t necessarily earned–I can use it to the benefit of those in subjugated groups.
Probably the most memorable and impactful event I have participated in since I got to CSU would be the 2011 Alternative Spring Break to Tucson, Arizona. I could write a book about this experience. I experienced firsthand a small part of what immigrants have to conquer while crossing the Sonoran desert. I was well fed, had plenty of water, slept in sleeping bags with multiple pads on the ground, and had good clothing and equipment but was still exhausted after every day and barely got any sleep at night. I can’t imagine having to cross with limited supplies and marginal-at-best equipment. There are no walls along this section of the border, all that separates Mexico and the United States in places is a hip high, rusted barbed wire fence. Clearly our intention is not to keep people from crossing at places like this, but to use the harshness of the terrain as a deterrent, and if enough people die the hope is that people will stop crossing. This has not been the case in the past 20 years as people continue to cross. As I said, I could continue about this experience for a while, and I’ll post more about it in the future.
So with all this to remember, I have a hard time getting discouraged. All I can think of is what I can get involved with next semester, and how I can continue to use the knowledge I’ve gained to make this world a better place.