Writing as Self-Expression and Community Building for Historically Underrepresented Students
DRAFTers being pirates: Arrrr! (Photo credit: Southwestern University)
DRAFTers writing in their journals outside, and sharing in a story circle.
Our first cohort: DRAFT 1.0
Writing can help create connection and community. We are different people with different positions, standpoints, perspectives, and experiences. But writing can help us understand each other better. Writing can help us communicate our own complex experiences and create connections with other people. Writing – and the connections we form through writing – can create community, at Southwestern and beyond. Communities often form around writing and self-expression. The DRAFT program is a first step on your path toward finding and creating that community at Southwestern.
What is DRAFT?
DRAFT (Daily Revision Advances Further Thinking) is a program built for students who have historically been underrepresented in higher education. As one part of a larger university-wide effort to make Southwestern feel more like home for first-generation college students, lower income students, or racial and ethnic minorities, DRAFT was launched in 2017. Our program uses writing and various forms of embodied and contemplative practices to generate support, solidarity, and community building for a select group of students in each incoming class.
“I learned that people of all different backgrounds with totally different stories and beliefs can come together and become a FORCE! We shared with one another and listened to one another intently for the last few days. I feel like we have all been vulnerable and open to each other’s ideas and provided a unique perspective every single discussion. I think it is important to remember that an open mind can lead to beautiful lessons.”
For Additional Information about DRAFT, visit these pages:
The DRAFT Student Experience
DRAFTers will engage in a virtual five-week immersive experience with self-reflective practices focused on writing, meditation, journaling, walking, storytelling, making art, dialogue and deep listening.
DRAFTers will learn the power of writing as a daily practice. Words are tools we use to build and rebuild the world around us, to create communities — and to change communities. Words help us understand our own experience and can also help us – and others — live in the world differently. Writing can empower us to express ourselves, writing can foster change, writing is political at the same time as it can be intensely personal and private. After all, the personal is political too.
Through our program, you will also explore the value of drafting, rewriting, and revising: as you continually re-write and revise your work, your own thinking develops and deepens. We are all works in progress, and so is our writing: it benefits from continually revision and rethinking. Daily revision advances further thinking, so DRAFT!
Our program also exposes you to all the parts of campus that exist to support you as a person and as a student, from the Office of Diversity Education, the Coalition for Diversity and Social Justice, to the Library, to the Office of Community Engaged Learning, the Counseling Center, The Center for Academic Success, Center for Career and Professional Development, and Debbie Ellis Writing Center, to name just a few.
Through DRAFT, students will learn about writing in various disciplines at Southwestern, exploring the different kinds of writing we do in different majors, while also participating in college-level discussions, readings, and course-work. Students will also write and revise their own composition over the course of the week, and ultimately submit an essay to be included in a DRAFT publication.
DRAFTers will also enjoy online social activities with fellow DRAFTers like movie nights and trivia!
Our program uses all these practices to cultivate solidarity and community among incoming students. You will spend five weeks making friends and getting to know your soon-to-be colleagues at Southwestern. By participating in DRAFT, you’ll get a head start on learning things and meeting people that will help you grow and thrive at Southwestern. Our goal is not just to welcome you to Southwestern, but to support you in creating relationships that make our school feel like a home and a community.
Skills Gained Through DRAFT
- Cultivating the habit of writing — and revising — as a daily life practice and a valuable tool for self-expression and self-reflection
- Using meditative and embodied contemplative practices and artistic practices to cultivate greater attention to our experiences and the complexity of our different experiences
- Gaining a better understanding of all the supportive resources that SU offers to ensure student success
- Participating in college-level discussions and acquiring exposure to college-level course work
- Creating a road-map for your path through Southwestern, generating a clearer vision of your academic and career goals, your co-curricular aims, and where high-impact practices such as internships, faculty/student research, and study abroad experiences will fit into your time at SU