Going to a predominately white institution as a woman of color can be a difficult process, but those at the Rowan University Office of Social Justice Inclusion and Conflict Resolution (SJICR) help students not only face their adversities but overcome them as well. 

The SJICR hosted their Women of Color Collective event on Monday, March 21, where many thought-provoking and intentional conversations were had. 

“I really felt like today was a day where I wanted them to speak their truth and be validated within the community,” said Mariana Cardenas, a graduate student in the Masters’s in Diversity and Inclusion program.

The topic of conversation that opened the floor was gaslighting and the forms of it that women of color may experience. Gaslighting can be defined simply as when someone manipulates you into questioning your own reality.

Many of the attendees had never heard of gaslighting before, so this was an eye-opener for them. Avari Oliver, a freshman majoring in biochemistry, said that this meeting was unlike the others but it was an enjoyable learning experience for her. 

“Today was kind of different…We’ve never talked about gaslighting so it made me think about my experiences in situations where maybe I was gaslighted…I really liked it and I liked hearing about other experiences that the girls had at Rowan with staff and other students,” Avari said.

A few of the attendees mentioned that they were promised by faculty that Rowan was a diverse school and they would have the opportunity to be around not only students who look like them but also a diversified campus. Upon entering the school they realized that was not the reality. 

Some students pointed out that they are the only minority in the majority of their classes and the only times that they see other minorities is around campus or at events. 

Alondra Martinez, the graduate coordinator for the SJICR and advocate for the Woman of Color Collective, observed that the events held on Rowan campus that are geared toward people of color are often run by organizers who were not of color with no one of color assisting them.

“Sometimes I think some of the programs and events that are supposedly catered towards [minorities] are whitewashed. There’s a lack of cultural competence and that’s because, sometimes, a lot of these people leading and creating these events are people that aren’t even a part of this group,” said Alondra.

The Women of Color Collective offers a space for minorities to become the majority and connect with students through their everyday experiences.

“All the other clubs and meetings are interesting, but when you see something that says specifically for women of color…it’s interesting and nice to meet people who are like me,” Avari said .

The SJICR will host its next Women of Color Collective event on Monday, April 4, and you don’t want to miss it. 

“Within this office, we want to push towards funding our Black and Brown students that are trying to make a change and make those identities that exist on this campus more vocalized and give them that hypervisibility on campus,” Alondra said.

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