FACTUALITY Workshop Examines Real-Life Effects of Structural Inequality

Monday, February 4, 2019

by Carly Montecalvo

On Thursday, January 31, more than 375 Saint Joseph’s University students, faculty, leaders and staff participated in FACTUALITY, a board game and facilitated simulation of real-life experiences in America that examines the advantages and limitations of each character’s identity and intersectionality.

Four fully-booked sessions were hosted by the Office of Inclusion and Diversity and sponsored by the University Student Senate and Athletics. Dr. Janée Burkhalter, special assistant to the provost for inclusion and diversity and associate professor of marketing, was familiar with the program and instrumental to bringing it to campus along with Kim Allen-Stuck, Ph.D., assistant vice president of student success and educational support.

“We agreed it would be an engaging way to get folks to talk about issues of structural inequality,” says Allen-Stuck “We’ve been thrilled with the response it’s received on campus.”

Similar to the game night favorite Monopoly, players work to build revenue and secure property. But in FACTUALITY, each person encounters barriers and benefits based on their unique intersection of race, gender, sexual orientation, faith and class. Along the way, participants get used to being uncomfortable, while learning about the realities of societal injustice.

“I think the structure of the experience enables people to talk about and experience things through a game environment that you might not be able to otherwise,” said Allen-Stuck.

The feedback after the sessions has been overwhelmingly positive and many participants found the workshop challenging in unexpected ways.

“One of the takeaways for me was realizing that it is not always money which prevents a person from moving up in the world, or even just buying property. But rather, it is that person’s access to opportunity,” said Regina Dongilli ’20.

Looking forward, Allen-Stuck sees this workshop as a way of continuing a meaningful dialogue within the Saint Joseph’s University community.

A FACTUALITY debrief session will be held on Tuesday, February 5, at 11 a.m. in Doyle Banquet Hall South for participants to discuss their experience with the workshop.

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