Common Ground Alliance – Incorporating Intersectionality in Social Justice

Common Ground Alliance (CGA) is a grant funded initiative that works with all the cultural and resource centers to develop social justice action plans, provide a space of intersectional understanding and facilitate dialogue on the multitude of identities that students bring to their college experience.

CGA has three major components: a retreat with all the cultural and resource centers, intersectional programing, and the EDL297a course. The CGA retreat happens at the beginning of the year, both undergraduate student workers and graduate assistants from each of the cultural centers are invited to attend. The retreat is structured so that students can have conversations about their identities and their struggles at the university. Ultimately this retreat allows student groups and cultural centers and organizations to work together to address issues that impact them and their communities. For example, in this year’s retreat we talked about sustainability and environmentalism in communities of color. Latinx students in the Guerrero Student Center shared that their community is impacted by food deserts. Similarly, Native American students at NASA shared that a lack of equitable and healthy food impacts their communities and added that this ties directly to water access and the current fight for water in North Dakota through the #NoDAPL movement. The retreat provided students the opportunity to discuss shared issues and struggles.

The second component of CGA is intersectional programming through two student facilitated groups --  Outspoken, a spoken word poetry group and Queer Trans People of Color +Two Spirited Discussion Group. Outspoken events allow students the opportunity to talk about their different identities through spoken word workshops. Facilitated by undergraduate student Araceli Montaño, Outspoken has conducted conversations on masculinity in the Latinx community and Queer Pan-Asian identities through spoken word. Similarly, QTPOC+Two Spirited, seeks to bring together students to talk about race, gender, and sexual orientation.  This year’s student facilitator, Elsa Grebreyohanes, has created a discussion group where students can talk about what it means to be queer at the university. With the help of community artist and activists we have created self-portraits in the form of gifs, poetry and video that represent what it means to be queer and a person of color. We hope to showcase these portraits next semester.

Lastly, CGA helps to run a course titled EDL 297a Complex issues in Social Justice in the Fall and Spring semester. The fall course allows students to learn how to facilitate conversations on social justice, primarily conversations around the “Big Eight” identities. By taking the fall class students become eligible to teach the class in the spring semester. The spring semester course allows undergraduate students the opportunity to facilitate a course with their undergraduate peers. This creates peer-to-peer learning through social justice dialogue. We are currently accepting applications for students who are interested in taking the spring course which can be found here: https://goo.gl/forms/bxDalK7BFqxJkUTg1

Students who are interested in learning about social justice topics and want to engage in dialogue should apply to enroll in the course. All three of these components allows for intersectional and intentional dialogue on the multitude of identities that students bring with them to their college experience. 

If you are interested in learning more about these programs or have an idea for a program please email us at cncarvajal@emai.arizona.edu.