by Destiny Lopez, ’16
“It began on this traditionally tricky, sticky topic in an open, welcoming manner.”
These were some of the many positive responses to the second annual “FLIP Your Perspective Week.” For the second year in a row, Stanford’s First-Generation, Low-Income Partnership (FLIP) hosted “FLIP Your Perspective Week,” a week’s worth of events aimed at fostering cross-class conversation and empowering the first-generation, low-income community and its allies. FLIP Your Perspective week took place from April 8th to April 12th and consisted of eight different events, each addressing different topics related to class. FLIP partnered with various student organizations to host a variety of unique events. Some notable events were “Race and Class at Stanford, Challenging Classism: A Workshop for Allies,” and “Classing the Line” (based on the “Crossing the Line” activity implemented in many Stanford residences). “FLIP Your Perspective Week” was well-attended by a diverse group of students: first-generation students, low-income students, allies, grads, undergrads, professors, admissions officers, and other special guests. The attendees’ feedback* was overwhelmingly positive.
One of the greatest groups in attendance at “FLIP Your Perspective Week” were allies; that is, students who don’t necessarily identify as first-generation or low-income but support what FLIP does and want to be a part of cross-class dialogue at Stanford. Of the students that responded to our feedback form, 65% did not identify as first-generation or low-income. This could be an indicator that the students who were most moved to give feedback were in fact allies. Many students found that their perspective about class shifted after attending. One ally became more comfortable talking about class and their own class identity: “I got more comfortable identifying myself as upper class, saw how me speaking about it challenges others with experiences similar to mine to consider naming those experiences as ‘upper class.’” Others learned tools to be better allies. Another ally responded, “I understood what allies can do and what roles they can take in helping advance FLI (first-generation, low-income) perspectives. I felt as though the event created a sense that dialogue about FLI issues is possible on campus.”
First-generation, low-income students appreciated the sense of empowerment and community “FLIP Your Perspective Week” nurtured. An event entitled “FLI Celebration” highlighted the strengths that first-generation and/or low-income students bring to Stanford. Students reported feeling empowered after “FLIP Your Perspective Week.” “I learned that being low-income/first-gen is not shameful. I learned that while I may have grown up with many hardships because of these identities, there were still good things and unique perspectives that came out of my experiences too.” FLI students also learned that class issues exist on every end of the class spectrum. Another FLI student responded that, “ I didn’t realize the difficulties that upper class people went through. I feel like I understand it better now.” It’s clear that people of all class identities had a lot to gain from “FLIP Your Perspective Week.”
Many attendees thanked FLIP for creating the safe and open space to discuss class that many believed is lacking in other parts of campus. One student said that “FLIP Your Perspective Week” “allowed me an opportunity to talk about and think about my class and educational privilege and to gain hope that Stanford students are willing and able to talk about these issues.” Other students echoed this belief that there needs to be conversation about class at Stanford: “I’d like to see more of Stanford get involved in this because it’s an important discussion that isn’t brought up enough all over campus.” Part of what made “FLIP Your Perspective Week” such a safe space was the incorporation of perspectives from all backgrounds. Another respondent noted,“I was so happy to see people from all backgrounds coming together to discuss class visibility.” This welcoming atmosphere made it easier for allies to come together. “I really liked that I was able to go to this even though I’m not first generation or low income,” remarked one ally.
FLIP hoped to start a dialogue that could continue outside of “FLIP Your Perspective Week.” For one attendee, this was a success. “I liked how the events were a learning experience for everyone and allowed you to extend the conversation of classism to many aspects of life.” Attendees were also grateful for the incorporation of multiple perspectives on a traditionally touchy topic and hoped to see this conversation continue. “The way that FLIP incorporated perspectives from allies, faculty, and staff in addition to FLIP student perspectives was the most wonderful and community-building aspect of the program. I hope that FLIP will continue to do that in the future.”
For more about FLIP and how to get involved, check at our Facebook page.
Destiny is a Frosh Intern on the FLIP Core leadership team.