PossePlus Retreat Creates Dialogue & Community

This spring, more than 5,000 college students at 48 colleges and universities across the country will engage in dialogue about crime and punishment in the United States.

Northwestern University became a part of this dialogue at this year’s annual PossePlus Retreat.

PossePlus Retreat is a weekend of interactive workshops geared towards creating a safe space to discuss social, cultural, and political issues. The retreat, which was held April 10-12th, runs for three days and two nights of full programming.

“We want students and other Northwestern community members to be relatively close to school, but removed enough where everyone can have a unique experience,” said Andres Carrasquillo, Program Coordinator for Campus Inclusion and Community.

The retreat, in its second year, was planned through a collaboration between Northwestern and the Posse Foundation. Any Northwestern community member was welcome to attend the annual event, which is hosted at every partner school nationwide.

For the retreat, Posse scholars are asked to invite any friends or faculty members they would like to attend. Elleana Shepperd, a Posse Scholar and Weinberg sophomore, says she invited a few of her friends and was happy with the result.

“It was great to find out where they stood on some of the issues we talked about,” Shepperd said. “It’s not something that comes up in casual conversation very often, so it was nice to have an environment to talk about it in.”

This year’s theme, Crime and Punishment, focused on how the issue of crime and punishment manifests itself in this country and how it ultimately affects communities and personal lives.

“Most everyone at the retreat had a personal experience with this topic,” Shepperd said. “It was extremely moving to hear what they [attendees] had to say about how their experiences with law enforcement had impacted their lives.”

Last year, the theme focused on social movements spanning back as far as the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire in 1911. According to Shepperd, this retreat was much more contemporary.

“I feel like this year it got a lot more intense than it did last year, based on the fact that many of the experiences we talked about were so deeply personal,” Shepperd said.
Currently, there are 21 Posse Scholars at Northwestern from Posse Los Angeles. In the fall, NU will welcome its third cohort of scholars.

For the retreat, Northwestern is in charge of the logistics of planning where attendees will stay for the weekend. This year, the retreat was held in Wisconsin near Lake Geneva.

The curriculum for the weekend is determined by the national foundation and the theme is voted upon by Posse Scholars each year.

“It’s exciting to work with the Los Angeles Posse and see how invested they are in our scholars,” Carrasquillo said. “Even though we’re on different sides, we’re all working towards the same goal of enriching the university community.”