On Tuesday, approximately 30 people attended “Check Your Privilege: The Game of Life,” an event hosted by the Chi Upsilon Sigma National Latin Sorority Inc. and Lambda Theta Phi Latin Fraternity Inc. to discuss the real life ramifications of privilege and inequality.
The event featured multiple simulations to convey various forms of economic difficulty and realities. Following the simulations, attendees split into small groups before convening in a large group to discuss their thoughts.
According to LSA junior Salvador Vargas, a Lambda Theta Phi member who helped facilitate the discussions, the simulations were necessary to open up conversations about privilege.
“When we had the more collaborative event, the simulator in the second half, I think the reflection turned out well,” Vargas said. “It didn't feel forced, people were very genuine sharing personal experiences, so I definitely think it was quality conversation.”
The first activity, a budgeting simulation, had attendees disperse limited resources to various living categories such as housing and health care. The second activity, an online simulation called SPENT, prompted attendees to make day-by-day financial choices for a full month. Each day, a new scenario was presented, forcing participants to make difficult choices.
According to Vargas, the simulations allowed students to invest in their choices and experience the consequences or rewards of their actions while keeping their societal privilege in mind.
“The first simulation was straightforward, there wasn’t really any consequences that came with it, people were very idealistic,” Vargas said. “I think that happens when people are not really aware or in tune with those experiences so they don’t know the consequences that happen. The second simulation gave us more of that experience where we’re now facing the consequences and limitations that come with our actions and identities.”
LSA sophomore Camilla Cantu, a Chi Upsilon Sigma member, helped facilitate the discussion and said the simulations fostered self-realization through difficult decisions.
“I think it’s really hard to brush off our own privileges,” Cantu said. “But I think when people are forced into that mindset and forced into a perspective that shows them their daily privileges and lack of privileges from other people, they think, ‘Wow, this is actually kind of a struggle.’ I think the simulations and the game is kind of necessary for people to gain the perspective for the privileges they may or may not have.”
Engineering freshman Yanella Lopez said the event exposed her to different ways of thinking about her life and privilege.
“It was an interesting take on our daily lives and how we perceive certain events and situations we’re placed in,” Lopez said. “There’s a lot of things that, one, we don’t really think about, and two, we don't really have a lot of control over, like what race or class we are born in, the amount of money we have and things of that nature. I really enjoyed talking about that and hearing other perspectives.”
Vargas said he hopes to continue similar conversations by hearing perspectives on privilege from other groups who come from a different social and economic background.
“I think in this room, we shared a lot of identities that are historically marginalized, disenfranchised,” Vargas said. “It was a very interesting space, because I am a student at the University, I am first gen, I can realize a lot of these privileges and I think it was a very important space to have where we can have these straightforward conversations about what are these privileges that come with socioeconomic status and intersectionality with gender and other social identities.”