Everything you need to know about the Kaleidoscope RLC

Ori Tsameret, Contributing Writer

Kaleidoscope RLC residents in their social justice TIDES class.

For many marginalized students, having a safe space to explore their identities is essential to their college experience. Enter Kaleidoscope, a Residential Learning Community dedicated to the exploration of the different identities and values of the students comprising them. This unique RLC is the brainchild of the Office of Multicultural Affairs. It is housed in Paterson Hall and allows marginalized students who are accepted into Kaleidoscope to center their identities and discuss social justice issues on campus and beyond.

“Kaleidoscope is predominantly freshmen of a variety of backgrounds, right now, I think we have 12 students and they’re a very close knit group, especially the freshmen,” Sienna Abdulahad, associate director for the Office of Multicultural Affairs, said.

According to Abdulahad, the RLC, while small in numbers, is the most diverse on campus in its demographic makeup. Kaleidoscope was created to facilitate learning about one’s identity, social justice and other important issues. It works on an interpersonal level, where students explore their own identity and progressively move onto how they interact with others and how their behavior is shaped by institutions and systems of oppression that dominate our culture.

The origin stories that students bring with them serve as the preliminary way of highlighting this. Students are able to have a group of people with whom they can process social injustice on and beyond campus with, through their peers and the staff who facilitate the RLC.

“They can see how privilege plays out, or classism plays out, inequality and equity plays out, and think, I can be a part of reducing those disparities,” Abdulahad said. “There’s a certain level of awareness that students in Kaleidoscope have. We’re able to build a dynamic group based on those languages, and students can build really meaningful relationships.”

Kaleidoscope follows a somewhat academic structure. Students read two books, “Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community” by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and “Pedagogy of the Oppressed” by Paulo Freire. These readings are meant to demonstrate the relevance of the same social justice issues that haunted our predecessors 50 and 60 years ago and to figure out how to undo oppression in students’ lives, as a community.

“A lot of people want to be part of an inclusive community, and they want you to provide the inclusion, they don’t necessarily want to maintain or develop, that inclusion,” Abdulahad said. “I will say Kaleidoscope does maintain, and develop and create and be a part of an inclusive community.”

The cohort seems to be held to this standard, meeting monthly for book discussions and casual dinners. Participants are also expected to enter the Kaleidoscope peer mentors program, giving them readily available access to a mentor who lives in their immediate vicinity, separating this program from other mentorship programs. Kaleidoscope also works in conjunction with other RLCs, specifically Changemaker and Spark, even embarking on a Visions Retreat with Changemaker at the beginning of the year.

Kaleidoscope looks to empower its participants with the knowledge they acquire and the conversations they hold. It helps facilitate trust between The “O” and students, and seeks to embolden students to become leaders on campus. The RLC actively holds and promotes events and is currently looking to expand. For more information about Kaleidoscope’s events, click here. Information about the RLC itself can be found here.

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