Caucusing Experience

Goals for Caucusing:

As a result of caucusing, participants should…

  • Articulate a deeper understanding of their own racial identities;
  • Connect with colleagues who engage in solidarity work toward racial justice and decolonization;
  • Identify issues of power, privilege, and oppression in our individual work and broader field; 
  • Begin to individually and collectively develop strategies that move the self and field toward liberation and social change; and
  • Crystalize their intention surrounding the strategic imperative on racial justice and decolonization for daily practice

Caucus Session Design

Caucus sessions have a group dialogue design.  Dialogue promotes collective learning and inquiry, and can provide opportunities for developing shared understanding (Schein, 1993). Caucus groups are based upon racial identity to center dialogue in the community of experience allowing participants to identify with and learn from their peers. Proponents of dialogue consider it a vehicle for understanding the cultures and subcultures in which we live and work, and organizational learning will ultimately depend upon such cultural understanding (Schein, 1993).

We believe racial justice is at our core; it underlies the work we each must do, everyday, in every way we can.  As such, Racial Identity-focused Caucus Space will continue as an offering at ACPA20. This space furthers the discussion around issues of race and decolonization in higher education and student affairs in accordance with SIRJD while engaging our members in praxis as we continue conceptualizing racial justice. These spaces primarily center dialogue on racial identity and are available on Tuesday, March 3rd and Wednesday, March 4th.

We hope to maintain smaller group sizes, ideally 3-12 participants to create an intimate environment conducive for dialogue and group process to successfully occur.    

This year we are offering an Affinity Intersection Caucus Space. As a commitment to our focus on reducing the oppression of communities of color at the intersections of their identities, knowing that all oppressions are linked and that the work is ongoing; we will offer one intersection caucus space per racial identity group.  This space supports discussion around issues of race and decolonization in higher education and student affairs in accordance with SIRJD while applying an intentional-intersectional lens (i.e. QTPOC, international Member, etc.). These spaces are in addition to the racial identity-focused caucus spaces that center race predominantly, though discussions of intersections of identity may also take place in such sessions.  Affinity Intersection and racial identity-focused caucus space are available on Tuesday, March 3rd and Wednesday, March 4th.

In an effort to support continued progress towards SIRJD goals, we are also introducing the Intersections Caucus at convention. These sessions are opportunities for folx from various racial identities to be in community and discuss issues of race and decolonization in the field of higher education and student affairs, share ways they are implementing SIRJD in their daily practice, and develop action items for the Association. The Intersections Caucus has an Intergroup dialogue design.  Intergroup dialogue has emerged as an effective educational and community building method to bring together members of diverse social and cultural groups to engage in learning together so that they may work collectively and individually to promote greater diversity, equality and justice (Maxwell et al., 2011).  Thus, dialogue becomes a central element of organizational transformation (Schein, 1993). Folx are highly encouraged to attend at least one caucus session offering only for the race(s) with which they identify on Tuesday, March 3rd and/or Wednesday, March 4th before participating in the Intersections Caucus on Thursday, March 5th.

The Caucus Space Offering Type Chart

Guidelines for Dialogue

To support a meaningful, transformative, and productive caucus experience, we’ve prepared the following guidelines for dialogue. They will be reviewed in the first caucus session by facilitators  as a starting point. Facilitators will invite participants in amending guidelines to best reflect the group and revisit guidelines in every subsequent session.

  1. Be fully present.  Our time together is precious and limited as is your presence.  Every group member has significant contributions to make and we invite you to fully participate with both your head and your heart; your listening and your speaking.
  2. Speak from personal beliefs and experiences.  Speak your truth using “I” statements to share thoughts and feelings. We acknowledge that individuals are experts in their own experience, thus we cannot speak for others.
  3. Speak your first draft.  If something is bothering you or if you have an idea or thought that is not completely formed – share this with the group.  Often our emotional reactions to this process and our initial ideas and thoughts offer the most valuable learning opportunities. 
  4. Confidentiality.  We want to create an atmosphere for open, honest exchange.  What is said in the space stays in the space. What is learned in the space can leave the space.
  5. Commit to learning from one another.  We will listen to each other and not talk at each other. We acknowledge differences amongst us in backgrounds, skills, interests, and values.  We realize it is these very differences that increase our awareness and understanding through this process.
  6. Embrace the challenge. Our dialogue may challenge our assumptions, beliefs, ideas, and practice.  As you are able, lean into the experience deeply and respectfully; understanding that conflict and discomfort are often a part of growth. Make sure to differentiate between feelings of discomfort and experiences with conflict and being unsafe
  7. Take responsibility for your impact. Our intentions do not negate the negative impact we may have on someone.  We will hold ourselves accountable by challenging ourselves to be quick to sincerely apologize and then open to learning when we do not understand.

Caucus Debrief Space

We recognize that the caucus experience can be empowering and even fatiguing.  As participants engage the process, deeply rooted emotions associated with oppression, decolonization, and intersecting social identities may be unearthed. While scheduled caucus sessions may conclude, we understand that for some conversations may be unfinished or that participants may be uniquely impacted. As a result we will offer debrief space that allows continued dialogue and self-care for participants. We encourage participants to take advantage of debrief space as necessary to process as well as tend physical, emotional, mental, social, and spiritual needs. 

Caucus Facilitators

Caucus sessions will be co-facilitated by individuals who are committed to advancing the strategic imperative for racial justice and decolonization.  To ensure a meaningful caucusing experience, facilitators will use different skills, tools, exercises and natural abilities to support the organic development of group discussion with a main goal of drawing drawing out knowledge and insight that emerges from caucus participants. Overall facilitators will be responsible for: 

  • Ensuring each participant has had the opportunity to express their ideas, questions, and feelings if desired.
  • Aiding the group to move discussion in a progressive direction without rushing the group.
  • Stewardship of the physical and dynamic group environment that encourages participants to take ownership and contribute to their group process in accordance with established dialogue guidelines.

Caucus Schedule

  1. Caucus Facilitator Training – Monday, 2 March, 2:30pm-3:30pm
  2. Facilitated Caucus Sessions Day 1 – Tuesday, 3 March, 4:30pm-6:00pm
  3. Facilitated Caucus Sessions Day 2 – Wednesday, 4 March, 4:30pm-6:00pm
  4. Intersections Caucus Sessions Day 3 – Thursday, 5 March , 8:45am-10:45am