Social Justice Symposium

Saturday April 14, 2018, 9AM at Burlington High School

In coordination with Dr. Laura Clemmons, Burlington High School, and our Community Planning Committee


Are you concerned with the direction is country is headed? Are you looking for a way to get involved in social justice work but unsure of where to start? Come learn about groups working in Vermont who need more people power!

The symposium is a day-long event that will allow community members to find ways to get involved in the good work happening in our community. This is a public event open to all; Youth, adults, and seniors are all encouraged to attend.


Are you a community member interested in attending the symposium? Click here to register. Tickets are $20 for general public, $10 under 25, free for high school students. No one will be turned away for lack of funds. Lunch will be provided.

You can purchase your ticket by check or cash at the door, in our store, or online by clicking here.

Schedule for the day

8:30 – 9:15 Registration and opening reception
9:15 – 9:45 Welcome remarks
10:00 – 10:45 Session I
11:00 – 11:45 Session II
12 – 1:00 Lunch
1:15 – 2:00 Session III
2:15 – 3:00 Session IV
3:15 – 3:30 Closing reception


Presenting groups/organizations

Student Panel

Race Up, Generation of Social Change, and other high school students.

Community Conversations

Community Conversations are 90 minute workshops/lectures that explore a number of different issues and topics.

From Rebels to Wolves: What is in a Name? presented by Bob Walsh: This workshop will review the origin of the South Burlington Schools’ REBEL nickname, previous efforts to change the name, and the events leading up to the final decision to adopt a new nickname for the South Burlington School District’s athletic teams. Included will be a discussion of how the REBEL controversy divided the community and ongoing legal challenges. Reference will be made to recent name changes at CVU and Rice High Schools.

What is Prejudice Really? presented by Sherwood Smith: This session explores the development of prejudice from a Western scholarly viewpoint. The concepts of bias, discrimination, hatred, genocide and prejudice are key themes in the study of human behavior and attitude. We seek to better understand the emotions and behavioral expressions associated with prejudice. The study of prejudice seeks to empower us to more clearly understand its role in our own lives and those we interact with.

A Local Perspective: A History of Burlington in the American Context presented by Nate Gondelman: This conversation include an overview of Burlington history within the context of what was occurring in the state and the country in general. Particular attention will be paid to Burlington’s economic development, the growth of different cultural identities through immigration, influential figures in Burlington’s history, and particular issues or events that continue to have resonance for Burlington residents today.

Nate is originally from Pittsburgh, PA. He attended UVM, where he received a B.A. and an M.A. in History, with particular focus on the Holocaust in Europe as well as American slavery. Nate is currently a staff member at UVM.

Truth or Consequences: Whose History Do We Tell? presented by Elise Guyette: This is a discussion of the importance of seeing ourselves in history. She will discuss how the absence of seeing her people in history books affected her as a youngster and later prompted her to research those usually left out of written narratives. She will seek to have others share their experiences. Depending on the interests of the group, participants could also discuss how to impact the history curricula of their school districts.

Dr. Elise Guyette is the author of Vermont: A Cultural Patchwork and Discovering Black Vermont: African American Farmers in Hinesburgh, 1790-1890, in addition to many articles and curricula about the history of various ethnic groups in Vermont.

Step UP: Think.Care. Act-Bystander Intervention Training- This 2 hour training is a pro-social behavior and bystander intervention program that helps people be proactive in helping others. The training takes you through the 5 decision making process to intervening. The goals of the program are to: Raise awareness of helping behaviors, increase motivation to help, develop skills and confidence when responding to problems or concerns, and ensure the safety and well-being of self and others.

Implicit Bias presented by Vermont Human Rights Commission-The mission of the Vermont Human Rights Commission is to promote full civil and human rights in Vermont. The Commission protects people from unlawful discrimination in housing, state government employment, and public accommodations. A place of public accommodation is any establishment, such as a school, restaurant, office, or store that offers facilities, goods or services to the general public. 

UVM Mindfulness-This workshop is geared towards white people although people of color are welcome to join as well. We will explore mindfulness practices and relational practices designed to increase our capacity to show up authentically with one another, and to work with feelings of white guilt, shame, grief, rage, numbness, despair, etc, in a way that allows us to engage more effectively in anti-oppression work and solidarity. Part of the purpose of this workshop is to work with these challenging feelings and be witnessed by other white people so that we are not putting the burden on people of color to address issues of racism and oppression or to help us feel better about internalized white supremacy. We will also practice techniques that deepen compassion, well-being, and resilience (aka addressing white fragility) As facilitators we will do our best to: present practices that we have experienced to have a powerful impact, to maintain a container of bravery and respect, and to share our own vulnerability as white people who are committed to love and justice and grappling with an internal world of difficult emotions connected to the issues of racism, oppression, hate, fear, and injustice.

Tabling groups/organizations

If you have questions or need additional information please contact: Kina Thorpe at (802) 863-2345 x6 or email

Symposium Sponsors

Thank you to the following sponsors:

Also sponsored by the Office of the Vice President for Human Resources, Diversity and Multicultural Affairs at UVM