Posted April 11, 2013 by Cooper Point Journal in Campus Life

Day of Absence/Day of Presence

Each year, Evergreen hosts the annual Day of Absence/Day of Presence (DOA/DOP) on April 24 and April 26. This year’s theme is Race: Truth and Reality.

First People’s Advising Services (FPAS) works with students, staff and faculty to develop workshops and activities on understanding racism, inclusion, diversity, privilege, allyship and the intersection of each issue.

“(DOA/DOP) reminds us that we’re a whole huge community, and that all aspects of our community are important,” said Raquel Salinas, coordinator of the student support programs for FPAS. Salinas thinks that people often think of equity or race as a binary concept, but that it should be viewed as an issue that everyone needs to address, not whether a person is racist or not. “We live in a society that does not make it easy to have these conversations,” she said.

The purpose of the event is to ask the entire campus to think about racial diversity and what the community at Evergreen would be like without it.

Day of Absence, which is on April 24, is broken into two different events on and off campus.

Off-campus events will take place at the Evergreen Tacoma campus, with a focus on rejuvenating and educating those who self-identify with a community of color.

The second part, which is on the Olympia campus, is developed with a focus on allyship building for those who do not self-identify with a community of color.

Although both events are planned with a specific focus, anyone is welcome to participate in either event.

Day of Presence events will take place on the Olympia campus on April 26. Events are planned for everyone to come together and reflect as a whole community on what it means to actively engage in anti-oppression work.

“When I go to Day of Absence, there’s something about it…it’s very powerful to be in a roomful of folks [for whom] the only reason they are there is to get to know each other and be a stronger community,” Salinas added.

The idea of DOA/DOP came from the play, “Day of Absence”, by African American playwright Douglas Turner Ward. The play is a critical yet comical story centered on a community where the African American members disappear for 24 hours. During their absence, those who are left reflect on their surroundings and what it means to have an integral part of their community disappear.

In the mid-1970’s African-American faculty at Evergreen met over dinner to unite with each other and in the mid-1990s it grew into an event which is now held off campus.

Students are encouraged to come to the First People’s advising services located in the library in room 2153 to find out more.  The schedule of events for the Day of Absence/Day of Presence can be found here.

By Amanda Frank