Poverty public discussion iluminates systematic oppression

A group of approximately eight to 10 people were split into two clusters and sat at a table in a circle with a piece of paper between them. They then discussed the struggles people in poverty experience on a day-to-day basis.

The program was called “Why Don’t You Just…?,” and it was a designed to raise awareness to poverty and the hardships victims face.

Ben Calabretta, associate director of the Center for Civic Engagement (CCE), said this discussion was meant to educate people on how poverty escalates domestic violence, access to education, homelessness and unemployment.

This discussion was part of Poverty Awareness Week on campus and was put on by the Public Square Program with the help of the CCE. It was put on last year to bring attention to poverty both on campus and the Palouse.

The groups participated in two activities, creating an understanding of what it means to be both poor and an outsider.

Participants and facilitators discussed topics on poverty and how they relate to each other in small groups, then discuss them as a larger group.

“We’ve given them the chance to learn from one another. Rather than us talking at them, they’re learning collaboratively,” said Amber Morczek, event co-facilitator who is earning her doctorate in criminal justice.

Many talked about the stigmas that come with living in poverty and the dynamic of poorer families. They also discussed the link between poverty and domestic violence or unemployment and brainstormed ideas to solve these problems.

“A lot of the people at my table had clearly thought about the issues before,” said Jennifer Murray, program coordinator at the Women’s Health Center. “It was consistently turned into conversations about systems of oppression or other systemic problems that people face and how interconnected those issues are.”

Global WSU students could stay connected and participate in the discussion through YouTube livestreaming throughout the discussion.

“Why Don’t You Just…?” took place from 3 – 4 p.m. on Wednesday in Butch’s Den in the CUB. The event was sponsored by Compton Union, WSU Libraries and the CCE.