Working-Class Studies Association Secretary Colby King will be giving a talk and a workshop on supporting the working class at the people’s universities this week at UNC-Pembroke. An Assistant Professor of Sociology at USC-Upstate, King will be discussing how state comprehensive universities (SCUs) host a large proportion of students, as well as faculty and staff, from working class backgrounds. He will describe Class Beyond the Classroom, a program he founded at Bridgewater State University with colleagues including fellow WCSA member Sean McPherson which worked to support students, faculty, and staff from these backgrounds through story-sharing events and other campus activities. Recognizing the contexts for SCUs today and their pivotal role in supporting working class college students, the events will highlight what working class college students, faculty, and staff, who also disproportionately represent a wide array of marginalized identities on campus, contribute to their institutions.
WCSA Steering Committee member Colby King, along with colleagues Jakari Griffith and Meghan Murphy, recently published an article in Teacher-Scholar: The Journal of the State Comprehensive University describing outreach efforts in support of first-generation and working class college students at Bridgewater State University (BSU), a state comprehensive university where a majority of students come from first-generation or working class backgrounds. The article describes programming organized by Class Beyond the Classroom (CBtC), a faculty and staff group at BSU, in which CBtC members share their stories about going to college as a first-generation and/or working class college student. The article discusses how these events validate first-generation and working class students, encourage students’ sense of belonging, and supports the success of all students by fostering their development of social, cultural, and psychological forms of capital.
WCSA President Dr. Michele Fazio visited Bridgewater State University for several events last month. The visit was organized by BSU’s Class Beyond the Classroom (CBtC), along with BSU’s College of Humanities and Social Sciences, the Honors Program, and the Service Learning and Civic Engagement Initiative, with the support of BSU’s Promoting Diversity Grant.
Dr. Fazio shared her story as a panelist for an Our Stories event with other CBtC members, including Cynthia Svoboda and Dr. Christine Brandon. The panel discussion was moderated by Dr. Colby King, and involved each panelist sharing their story of going to college as a working-class and/or first-generation college student with an audience of more than 50 students.
Dr. Fazio also led a service-learning workshop titled “Class, Community, and Culture: Documenting Southeastern Working-Class Life in the Service-Learning Classroom,” hosted by Dr. Christy Lyons, in which she discussed her multi-semester oral history service-learning project on archiving the work histories of the Lumbee Tribe.
Later that day, Dr. Fazio led a Pizza and Professors discussion hosted by Dr. Teresa King and the Honors Center, during which she discussed her experience teaching an Honor’s course on social justice, inequality, and migrant farmworkers. She provided an overview of students’ service-learning projects currently in progress to promote National Farmworker’s Awareness Week, and discussed her current research project on labor radicalism and Italian American working-class culture.
The visit to BSU was particularly noteworthy because Dr. Fazio is an alum of BSU.