Speaker helps students find themselves

By Leticia Bennett - Staff Reporter

People are all interconnected through our identities and share something in common with everyone, a college administrator said earlier this week.

Jason Dorsette, associate director and chief of staff at Oregon State University, spoke Monday at Highline's annual Unity Through Diversity week.

Unity Through Diversity Week is Highline's effort to recognize the different races and cultures on campus through a series of presentations and workshops.

The workshop was centered around the topics of race, gender, and identity.

Dorsette said he does not take either of those subjects lightly when he speaks and said that it has been a "sacred journey" for him to learn, teach, and speak about it.

The workshop included several different activities that encouraged students to interact and learn more about themselves.

"Be brave, be bold, do what's comfortable for you," Dorsette said when participants formed groups and made ground rules for the activities and discussions.

Several of the ground rules included the common theme of respect, open mindedness, and speaking from experience.

One of the activities was to illustrate that all students and people are connected.

Participants divided into small groups, formed a circle and would hold a string of yarn and state one of their identities.

If others in the group shared that identity, they would pass the piece of yarn and continue until everyone was holding at least one of the strings.

The end result was a giant web that connected all members of the group together.

Another activity was forming an "identity circle." All participants formed a large circle and were asked several questions pertaining to their race and identity.

Participants would step into the circle if the question or statement applied to them and would step back if it did not.

Some of the discussions included the definitions of what race is; what the queer identity means; self-authorship, an ideology of an internal personal identity, and the critical race theory, which examines society and culture at the intersection of race, law, and power.

Dorsette said he hopes to see his work help students grow spiritually and intellectually and wants it to be of use to many in the future.

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