In an increasingly socially-conscious world, privilege has entered the conversation as a topic of great importance and weight. One’s privilege is defined by Dictionary.com as “a right, immunity or benefit enjoyed only by a person beyond the advantages of most,” and is discussed today in the context of one’s social, economic and political advantages over others that are often taken for granted. Conversations have been sparked about white privilege, but many other types of privilege exist in today’s society. With this and the goal of increasing awareness of all types of privilege in mind, UGBC launched the Never Have I Ever photo campaign on Sunday, April 12.
Never Have I Ever was created to encourage conversations about privilege and “how privilege is associated with various aspects of our identity” by “emphasiz[ing] the importance of acknowledging all types of privilege, and recognizing that no one privilege is better or worse than another,” according to their statement of purpose.
The campaign, headed by Joon Park, A&S ’18, with the help of contributors Nanci Fiore-Chettiar, A&S ’15, and James Adeleye, A&S ’16, is composed of photos taken of BC students, accompanied by their statements describing their own privilege. By revealing something that has never happened to them, such as “had my credentials doubted because of my gender” or “had to persuade people that my life matters," students provide powerful statements that draw attention to their own privilege.
The phrase “Never Have I Ever” is color coded in each photo according to the type of privilege being brought to light: purple for sexual orientation, maroon for race, pink for gender, green for socioeconomic status, blue for ability, gold for religion, orange for mental health and navy blue for nationality.
The initial inspiration for a photo campaign came from Duke University’s “We Don’t Say," which featured student athletes explaining why certain offensive words should not be used in conversation. When copyright complications prevented this project from being brought to BC, UGBC had to think of a different way to bring a social awareness photo campaign to the university.
“We wanted to stay in the realm of photo campaigns as we felt that photo campaigns would be the most effective in both sending a concise message and spreading to the bigger BC community through social media,” Park said.
The idea for a project that highlights privilege came from Park’s Inequality in America class, in which students studied Peggy McIntosh and discussed how privilege goes beyond white privilege so that everyone – no matter how disadvantaged – still holds privilege over another person or group. According to Park, the campaign was met with a surprising level of success that surpassed UGBC’s expectations.
“My goal was simply to get people talking about privilege,” Park said. “[Now] we have over 900 likes on Facebook and I constantly hear people talking about the campaign. Initially, I had to recruit people to participate in the campaign. However, soon enough I had people emailing me asking me if they could join the campaign.”
Though the campaign has completed its series for the year, Park and UGBC have plans to continue and expand the project for the fall semester. Next, they plan to involve BC athletics, bring in a panelist of speakers to discuss privilege and extend it to other universities.
Overall, coordinators were thrilled with how the BC community received the program and how it spread to a variety of students--including those not involved in UGBC.
“I am happy to say that the campaign met great reviews from the BC community,” Park said. “Prior to the campaign, UGBC felt that we were constantly preaching to the choir and that the same people were talking about different pressing issues. I think the campaign did a really great job in having new participants who weren’t involved with UGBC at all.”