Words Take Center Stage at Annual Posse Plus Retreat

Kristina Rodriguez ’19, Features Editor

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Friday, April 1 began this year’s annual Posse Plus Retreat (PPR) which lasted until Sunday, April 3 at Camp Yolijwa in Newville, PA, about 30 minutes from Dickinson’s campus. This year’s topic was “Sticks and Stones: Language and Speech in a Diverse Society,” and encouraged attendees to discuss topics such as coded language, offensive hate speech and online speech.

This retreat is a mandatory event for the Posse scholars and each scholar is allowed to invite up to two guests, or “Posse Plussers,” to accompany them.  Participants engaged in small and large group discussions, trust games and seminars on topics such as microaggressions and hate speech.

Since participation in the Posse Plus retreat is invitation-only, some students lament that the lessons and information shared at the retreat is not accessible to all students. Participants at this year’s retreat wondered how they could spread what they learned when they returned to campus.

Sandra Vidal ’19, member of New York Posse, believes that other perspectives would have been a beneficial addition to the retreat as an opportunity for a learning experience.

“Not everyone who needed to be [at the retreat] was there,” Vidal said. “Those Dickinson students who have not been exposed to diversity, in terms of race, gender, sexual orientation and socio-economic status, were not at the retreat.”

Vidal added that “another challenge the Posse community faces is how we can get these people to come to the retreats.”

Helen Takacs, mentor to the first-year New York Posse and associate professor of International Business and Management, challenged those who attended the retreat to bring what they learned and apply to the setting of Dickinson’s college campus.

“Could everyone on our campus benefit from PPR experience?,” Takacs asked. “Yes, but I’ll flip the question around and ask how those of us that attended PPR can bring the weekend’s many insights and our strengthened relationships back to campus.”

Silvana Alarcon ’18, a Posse Plusser, agrees with Takacs that the PPR retreat can spread important lessons across campus.

“I think that the people who were there needed it because it opened their eyes, but next year it could definitely grow in the sense that Posse should invite different acquaintances to spread the knowledge across campus,” Alarcon said.

Takacs thinks that it is up to those who attended the retreat to get more people to go next year.

“This is up to the students, and especially the Posse Scholars,” she said. “Start now for next year by telling everyone you can about the weekend, by sharing the incredible energy that we all brought back and by opening your hearts like you did over the weekend.”

Takacs hopes that those who attended the retreat will now be able to extend the learning to Dickinson’s campus through discussions and social interaction with friends and professors.

“I’m excited to see how the Posse Scholars and Posse Plussers will bring back this good work to the campus,” Takacs said. “PPR also allowed all of us there to go deeper within ourselves and to connect more deeply with others. That, too, is useful for strengthening our Dickinson community.”