Princeton RISE Hosts Mini-Symposia

Tuesday, Oct 6, 2020
by Elsie Sheidler, Senior Associate Director

To acknowledge the contributions and learnings of Princeton RISE students, five mini-symposia were held during the week of September 28. Each mini-symposium was led by Princeton RISE peer facilitators and included an overview of the Princeton RISE initiative, presentations of learning by Princeton RISE fellows, and time for questions. The symposia were attended by students, staff, faculty and campus and community partners who supported the students through this initiative. 

Princeton RISE (Recognizing Inequities and Standing for Equality) is an anti-racist grant initiative launched in summer 2020 by the Pace Center for Civic Engagement in response to persistent, recent, and continuing acts of racism in our communities and in our country. Through community-based projects and weekly small-group check-ins led by peer facilitators, 69 Princeton RISE fellows were given the opportunity to explore racial justice by learning more about existing inequities and meaningfully contributing to the research and mission of more than 40 campus and community partners.

Together, the students and community partners investigated the historical context of systemic oppression and racism in the United States, explored the power of community by way of social justice movements, worked on navigating power and privilege, focused on cultivating empathy, and tackled being an advocate, ally, and accomplice.

"RISE was a pathbreaking initiative," said Anastasia Mann, a community partner who supported a Princeton RISE fellow with the town of Princeton Civil Rights Commission. "[It is] wonderful to see [Princeton University] putting its most valuable resource (it's people) to work in the struggle of our time, that is the fight to advance racial justice."

The impact of the Princeton RISE experience and learning on the students, who ranged from first years to graduate students, is reflected in these few quotes captured from the first symposium held on Monday, September 28.

“Food justice is racial justice.” 
- Collin Riggins '24, Princeton RISE fellow with World Wildlife Fund

“Anyone can be a social activist and enact change in their community.” 
- William Gu '23, Princeton RISE fellow with Trenton City Emergency Response Initiative

“I have more respect for non-profits and all the work they do for communities behind the scenes.”
- Victoria Agwam '23, Princeton RISE fellow with PolicyLink

Princeton RISE students who participated in this summer pilot initiative are continuing their learning during the academic year by participating in an anti-racism book club and by staying connected to their community partners through shared reflection packages featuring anti-racism books and reflection journals.