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Princeton to Test Drive ‘Social Justice’ Training Program

39 students selected to discuss ‘issues of identity, power privilege, and difference’

Princeton University will test drive its new “social justice” training pre-orientation program this September, with 39 freshmen selected to discuss “issues of identity, power privilege, and difference” during a five-day retreat.

The program Dialogue and Difference in Action (DDA) will have upperclassmen and university staff “lead small-group discussion sessions and full group interactive exercises designed to help participants explore their own identities and contend with the challenges posed by the pervasive influence of racism, sexism, homophobia.”

“Through self-reflection and dialogue, students will develop competencies and perspectives crucial to the creation of an inclusive campus climate,” according to the program description.

Princeton’s Women*s Center, LGBT Center, and the Carl A. Fields Center for Equality and Cultural Understanding will all be involved in running the program and training the student group leaders, according to the Daily Princetonian.

LaTanya Buck, the dean for diversity and inclusion, was instrumental in DDA’s development. She was hired last year after a special task force on diversity, equity, and inclusion recommended Princeton find a “senior administrator to focus on educating and engaging the entire student body around difference and identity.”

Buck directed questions about what activities or materials the program will utilize to university spokesman Daniel Day, who wrote in an email to the Washington Free Beacon, “Students will engage in peer-facilitated small group discussions, full group presentations and self-reflective activities such as journaling on a variety of topics, including political dynamics and social justice movements. As they do in other orientation programs, students will share stories about themselves and get to know their new classmates.”

DDA will take place at the Garrison Institute in New York, a renovated Capuchin monastery currently used to host seminars “exploring the wisdom, values and insight gained through contemplative practices to catalyze personal and social transformation.”

DDA is one of four “small-group experience[s]” that serve as friendship-building exercises for incoming Princeton freshman. Each student participates in only one of the programs, with other options being a service or camping trip, and a unit exclusive to student-athletes.

Stephen Chao, who will serve as one of DDA’s student leaders, told the student paper he believes his program “will be even more effective at [bonding students] because it deliberately focuses on issues of identity and social justice on campus.”

The program will be evaluated after this year’s pilot session.

(First reported by The Washington Free Beacon)   (August 28, 2017)

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