History behind the Power and Privilege Symposium
In 2006, there was campus-wide controversy after two students wore blackface to a party. The controversy surrounding the incident ignited discussion about racial issues throughout the student body, motivating students and faculty to provide a channel for these discussions to take place. To respond, the college cancelled classes for a day and put on Whitman’s first Race Symposium in 2006. This first symposium was largely successful: it garnered popular attendance, fostered discussion among individual students, and reduced some of the risk of alienation that comes with diversity.
In the spring of 2011, after a very heated ASWC Town Hall, the idea of a race symposium resurged. As a result, an ASWC act was drafted to recreate a Symposium on Race. In Fall 2012, the ASWC student affairs committee formed a committee who took charge of organizing the event. The committee decided to re-name the event the Power and Privilege Symposium, to leave room for future years to cover different topics relating to identity, power and oppression.