Sixth annual Next Step Retreat

Megan Brown , Staff Writer

The Next Step Social Justice Retreat was held this past weekend at College Park Hall with about 80 people in attendance. Running all day on Friday and Saturday, students and coordinators had the opportunity to discuss how a world of compassion, justice and equity for all people could be created by sharing their own personal stories and proposing solutions to social issues.

“I thought that it was very good, that people really connected more than they do more than any other part of Union College and that I saw some unexpected people there, and I’m glad that the administration was involved,” Nathalie Gullo ’21 said.

People of the Union community gathered starting at 4:00 p.m. on Friday starting with introductions and welcoming activities and then every student was placed into a small group where they would participate in different social justice activities.

Maya Stevenson ’21 mentioned that one of her favorite parts of the event was getting to learn more about people she may not otherwise have crossed paths with.

“It really put things into perspective and it showed how much work needs to be done on this campus and outside to achieve social justice.”

President of Sigma Delta Tau Julia Waszak ’20 explained how she loved that there was a mutual respect in the sharing of everyone’s opinions and stories.

Additionally, in terms of spreading awareness of these social issues on campus, Waszak said, “It’s important these events take place because they help bring people of diverse backgrounds into one open and accepting space… I feel like every student should get to experience aspects of this retreat in some form at their time at Union.”

Likewise, Stevenson wrote that, “The best way to learn is from each other and by getting more involved in different organizations/clubs so we can broaden our horizons and educate ourselves as to why our actions are harmful at times…The next step is being an active ally.”

The first Next Step Retreat held at Union took place on January 17-19, 2014.

Many participants describe the event as “inspirational,” “absolutely amazing,” “powerful” and “life-changing.”

Many have maintained their relationships with those in their small groups and their small group facilitator well after the event .