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Institutions inhibit the healing of individuals and reproduce conditions from which individuals must heal; but they can be healed themselves so that they can transform the work they do in the lives of students. -- Torr Mundy


What gives? Understanding the Locus of Change

How do you feel about change?  

What makes it easier to be flexible in considering and meeting individuals’ needs?  

What makes it harder? 


As mentors and mentees work together to support students’ wholeness, conflicts with institutional structures and patterns are bound to arise, particularly when the students hold nondominant, marginalized identities. It will become necessary to consider where change needs to happen—within the student, within the context, both—lest mentoring devolve into coaching for assimilation.  On the other hand, students can find it unduly burdensome if they are expected to take leadership in creating institutional change.

It is relieving to hear that not all of the responsibility should fall on the student. As a “campus-leader” and advocate for many groups on campus, it was exhausting to fight for (obviously very needed) change.” -- Alexis Giron

How do you define change and how/where it happens?


I began my work as mentor with an activist-oriented theory of change and revisited some of my work as a mentor using a systems-oriented one. I’m currently exploring a healing-centered theory of change. The call for change as healing acknowledges ongoing, personal, and structural dimensions of harm, loss, trauma, and violence, including the violence of racism and other interlocking systems of oppression, while at the same time directing focus to the similarly over-time process of restoration and wholeness.  - Alice Lesnick

The narrative of leaving home and distancing from family in order to “move up” is not universal, and tends to accompany white supremacist and classist frameworks of achievement and assimilation (Curl, forthcoming). In institutions that tend to devalue relationship building and maintaining in favor of individual growth, our ideas about change need careful attention and cultivation. 

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