Graduate Allyship and Language Awareness

Week 1 – Graduate Allyship and Language Awareness

Date: Thursday 1/7 3:00pm-5:00pm
Location: Student Community Center Room E



  • Introduction to GAC Winter Quarter Seminar on Developing Allyship
  • Community Agreement
  • Graduate Allyship
  • Language Awareness


Seminar Materials

Graduate Allyship

 From the Seminar:

How would we adapt the tips laid out in the video?

-Keep the 5 tips and add two more

Guidelines for being a Graduate Student Ally:

  1. Ally is a verb (#5 in the video)
  2. Speak up, but not over the group you’re trying to help (#3 in the video)
  3. Mistakes Happen! Apologize, learn what was wrong, and move on (#4 in the video)
  4. Understand your privilege (#1 in the video)
  5. Listen and do your homework (#2 in the video)
  6. Reserve judgement: If you’re making a judgement about someone or generalizing about a group, consider not voicing the judgement from the conversation or dialogue if it doesn’t help the conversation/dialogue to reach its end goal of awareness and understanding of the experiences being shared by another person.
  7. Collaborate with each other: Working with each other yields greater results than working by ourselves. Bring your expertise in working with others to allyship.

Language Awareness and Dialogue

From the Seminar:

Positive Intent vs Negative Impact: Analyzing how our language effects others and derails our well meant intentions.

This activity focuses on asking participants to identify the positive intents the speaker may have by saying the statement and to identify also how the listener may be negatively impacted by the statement.

Below summarizes the seminar group’s outcomes of the activity.

“I don’t see color. We’re all human.”

Positive Intent

  • There’s no point to racism
  • Express solidarity
  • Try not to judge based on skin tone / support

Negative Impact

  • Erasure of experiences
  • Denial of self/social identity
  • Saying “I only see white people”

“All Lives Matter”

Positive Intent

  • No one should be discounted / treated that way
  • Marginalizes others and mounts defense
  • Be inclusive

Negative Impact

  • Denial of experience that the group feels
  • Erasure of historic precedent
  • Taking focus away from the movement
  • Doesn’t allow the community to stand up for themselves

“You look so nice in that. You should wear dresses more often.”

Positive Intent

  • Compliment you
  • Be nice
  • Make a positive connection

Negative Impact

  • Reducing you to how you look
  • Removing agency from your choices in attire
  • Remove enjoyment in wearing what we like
  • Uncomfortable depending on context

“First World Problems”

Positive Impact

  • Trying to say that it’s not that bad / shouldn’t feel so bad about it
  • Empathize with the person

Negative Impact

  • Minimizes the problem
  • Takes away the right and/or agency to call it a problem
  • Shuts down attempts to fix the problem


Concepts and Terms Mentioned in Seminar:

  • Privilege
  • Transgender: gender not matching up with perceived assigned biological sex
  • Cisgender: gender matches with perceived assigned biological sex
  • Pronouns: in recognition of cisgender privilege and support for transgender individuals, we often introduce ourselves with our pronouns so other may know what we prefer to be identified.
    • She/her/hers, he/him/his, they/them/theirs, etc.
    • This is an example of cisgender privilege because the normal assumption is that gender pronouns match the appearance of the person, which isn’t the case for the transgender individual.


Extra Materials: