Keeping Sewanee Accountable with the CoHo

dsc_0009By Phillip Davis

Staff Writer

At 6 p.m. on Wednesday, February 22, the Community Engagement House hosted an accountable action workshop at the Social Lodge, focused on social justice issues both on-campus and in broader contexts.

A presentation by Catherine Casselman (C’17) began the evening, describing six different types of activism to address justice issues: “symbolic, support work, financial, relational, language, and direct action.” All of these, it was stressed, are important in achieving positive change.

Organizers then handed out a sheet called “198 Methods of Nonviolent Action,” which covered everything from media-based demands to effective labor organization to international legal redress, giving suggestions like “withdrawal from international organizations” and “rude gestures.”

Attendees chose a partner to discuss a problem on campus that they feel strongly about and then proposed an attainable solution. Common issues were toxic masculinity and the lack of diversity at events hosted by groups like the African-American Alliance (AAA), the Hispanic Organization for Latino Awareness (HOLA), and the Organization for Cross-Cultural Understanding (OCCU), as well as disability accessibility to academic buildings and dorms.

As the event emphasized accountability and real-world activism, solutions were, by and large, very specific. For example, Chris Hornsby (C’19) proposed, as a solution to toxic masculinity, that fraternities create an educational program that members complete every year, to make sure that it gets internalized and passed down within Greek culture.

To combat the perception of events hosted by the aforementioned minority organizations as exclusive to their group, Chani Davenport (C’19) suggested that their members bring friends of eclectic backgrounds to show that they are welcome within those discussions.

Before dispersing, groups were given timelines to fill out with tangible steps toward their solution. To hold each other accountable, partners were expected to share their progress with each other as they progressed.

CORRECTION (3/2/2017): In a previous form of this article, Armonté Butler (C’17) was named as a presenter. The correct presenter was Catherine Casselman (C’17). Also, a quote given by Chris Hornsby (C’19) was incorrectly attributed to Mark McAlister (C’17).