Students are hearing a lot about the Seventh annual Beyond the Box Conference, which is returning to Swarthmore College for the first time since it was founded here eight years ago. During the weekend of February 24-26, Swarthmore is expecting to host about 200 liberal arts students from throughout the east coast who are participating in the event.
Beyond the Box is a traveling conference that is held at a different college every year. This year, students from Wellesley, Williams, Dartmouth, Mount Holyoke, and Barnard, among many other schools, will gather at Swarthmore to address concerns about issues in diversity and equality that are typical in liberal arts schools. During the three day conference, students will participate in workshops and engage in discussions with the goal of becoming better equipped to affect change at their home campuses.
Beyond the Box has evolved considerably in the last several years. It was originally launched in 1996 by a small group of Swarthmore students who recognized that there was a fundamental difference between issues of diversity issues in small liberal arts colleges as compared to problems at larger universities. These students organized Beyond the Box to focus on the concerns of liberal arts students and to come up with plans of actions to bring change to their colleges.
This years theme, which was chosen by the students, is Retooling for the Revolution: Dismantling Systems of Inequality on Our Campuses, in Our Communities, and Across the Nation. Keynote speakers include Dr. Elijah Anderson (author of Code of the Street), Dr. Eduardo Bonilla-Silva (author of Racism without Racists) and Dr. Sarah Willie (author of Acting Black). Students, activists, and administrators alike will lead the workshops.
Jayanti Owens, co-chair of this years Beyond the Box, shared her thoughts about the goals of the upcoming conference: “We want all students – white, black, middle-class, affluent, working class, international students – to think about why addressing these issues is important for the educational experience elite liberal arts colleges impart on all their students. We want to raise questions and problem-solve about how academia as a whole can affect change in larger society.”
There is still time to participate because the deadline for registering has been extended to Friday, February 3. For more information or to register for the conference, visit btb.swarthmore.edu.