Taking Charge: W&J junior found her voice through campus engagement

Created: October 30, 2017
Last Updated: July 14, 2020

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WASHINGTON, PA (Oct. 30, 2017)—Lisa Huff ’19 is ready to make an impact.

The Washington & Jefferson College (W&J) junior and psychology major is settling in to the fall semester at the College as the president of the Black Student Union (BSU), and spent her summer working with the Office of Inclusive Campus Engagement to create and implement a response structure to deal with incidents of implicit bias as they occur on campus.

But Lisa wasn’t always this confident. The Office of Inclusive Campus Engagement helped her find her voice and embrace her leadership qualities.

“The Office of Inclusive Campus Engagement’s diversity efforts definitely helped me to get out of my comfort zone and educate myself on issues that I was not well-versed in,” Lisa said. “Through the Office of Inclusive Campus Engagement, I got a chance to participate in a production of ‘The Vagina Monologues,’ and it was such an amazing experience and so liberating to be able to talk about problems that affect women, just being uncensored and unabashedly honest. It was refreshing.”

Lisa examined her role both within and outside of the context of W&J, and was able to learn and grow as a member of the BSU. She acknowledges the weight of taking on the president role, but is ready to represent the organization.

“Being in a leadership position can seem scary at times, especially when you’re in a leadership position for a club that is supposed to represent and stand for underrepresented peoples. With it comes the responsibility of not staying exclusively within the safe environment that we create at our meetings, but rather being conduits of change that affect the environment of our campus at large,” Lisa said. “While I’m nervous, I’m also super excited, because we have big things planned for this year.”

Part of what she has planned includes making sure she does her part to create an environment of acceptance on campus. In doing so, she and the Office of Inclusive Campus Engagement seek to combat implicit bias, or unconscious stereotyping based on identity. With the bias response structure she’s helped to create, W&J is now better equipped to take on incidents of intolerance when they do occur.

“As campuses are pretty much a microcosm of society at large, these incidents, unfortunately, are to be expected,” Lisa said. “I believe that bias can be combated with education, facts and a willingness to unlearn certain notions. By implementing a response structure and a platform to report incidents of bias, it shows that we as a community will not tolerate the harassment of people based on their identities.”

 

This is the second story in a three part series on The Office of Inclusive Campus Engagement and diversity at W&J. Read part one here and part three here

About Washington & Jefferson College

Washington & Jefferson College, located in Washington, Pa., is a selective liberal arts college founded in 1781. Committed to providing each of its students with the highest-quality undergraduate education available, W&J offers a traditional arts and sciences curriculum emphasizing interdisciplinary study and independent study work. For more information about W&J, visit www.washjeff.edu, or call 888-W-AND-JAY.

Are you ready to Be A President? Apply to W&J now.

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