BY MICHELLE PONCELET
When students and faculty gathered at Dudley Birder Hall on Monday, March 7, they were confronted with phrases like: “There is still a gap between me and the people working with me,” “I am and always will be on the outside,” and “St. Norbert College has a facade of radical hospitality.”
The event was “Take Back the Knight,” and the experiences of each listener differed greatly as they heard eleven tales of “life on the margins.”
Supported by Campus Ministry, SGA, LSE, the ALIVE program and the Norman Miller Center, the event was organized to give people who don’t usually have a voice on campus a venue to talk about their experiences.
Seven students, two faculty members and two pieces from anonymous students shared these experiences of marginalization. To show support for these powerful stories, audience members were asked to stand instead of clapping at the end of each piece.
Talks ranged in focus and intent, from an openly gay faculty member’s experience with students, administration and faculty at SNC, to a support of SNC’s STAR team–that it “can do so much good for students of color on campus.”
Listeners got a firsthand account of “personal stories that we walk past daily,” such as a student’s experience of coming out to her family or a piece of poetry from anonymous student with physical disabilities on what it’s like to be seen as “simply a roadblock. Simply in their way, preventing them from getting to class.”
Speakers talked about various stereotypes they have to encounter that are “hurtful, wrong and degrading,” such as a student of Native American ancestry who “work[s] just as hard as you and not for free,” or a student who experienced the stigma of mental illness so much that it took this student “three years to not be ashamed of the fact that a disease almost killed me.”
Of course, the complexity and personal nature of this night cannot be accurately conveyed. Each story offered a glimpse at a different aspect of an experience of marginalization.
The program for the event stated that listeners should “expect to learn something new. There is a lot beyond your experience and a lot you don’t know.”
“I think it was a powerful night,” said Maria Howe, a coordinator of the event.
“I think that many students would never expect that these experiences are happening. I hope that others take away that there are people in our community who are suffering and oppressed and that we all need to be more attentive to the experiences of people across lines of difference.”