On the anniversary of the Posse Foundation’s 30th anniversary, 158 students, staff, and faculty ventured off the Hill and into Utica for the annual PossePlus Retreat (PPR). Joined by representatives from Posse Boston and Miami, they began the weekend by viewing an introductory video that highlighted the foundation’s topic for the year, “The State of Our Union,” and the many faces and backgrounds that make up this union.

Subtopics were chosen by students via a survey conducted last fall. What surfaced were myriad words that the media has had a field day with over the past few months: #MeToo, policing in schools, education reform and opportunity, toxic male masculinity, mental health stigma, and the list goes on.

According to attendee Megan Walls ’21, she felt that “PPR gives us the chance to have these hard conversations that wouldn’t normally happen on campus and be as vulnerable and open as we want.” Her sentiments rang true for many of the students, staff, and faculty alike when asked the same question. From a real-time version of the game of Life that highlighted the benefits of intergenerational wealth and the downfalls of living without it to discussion groups based around the aforementioned topics, PPR provided a safe space for participants to air their concerns for the country at-large and the Hamilton community.

PPR gives us the chance to have these hard conversations that wouldn’t normally happen on campus and be as vulnerable and open as we want.

Through discussions held on Friday and Saturday, attendees were tasked with developing action steps on Sunday to combat the issues they saw in their own communities. Some participants stated steps like “attend a Student Assembly meeting,” “tell other students at my old high school about Hamilton,” and “engage the Hamilton administration on its inclusion efforts,” among other responses. The hosts of PPR charged attendees to take their commitments with them into the world rather than making empty promises.

Apart from these conversations, there were lighter activities that helped diffuse tense energies after the exhaustive discussions. Between warm-up, icebreaker activities including rock-paper-shoot competitions and a battle-of-the-bands, No Talent Talent Show, which is hosted annually, provided more excitement. Featured student performers included Suavé TheGent (Ricardo Millien ’19), Kyandreia Jones ’19, Ndanu Mutisya ’21, and Andrew Little ’22. Their performance and others of rap songs, spoken word, comedy skits, monologues, etc. generated a standing ovation at each turn as everyone settled into an evening of relaxation and entertainment on Saturday.

In honor of the Posse Foundation’s 30th anniversary, two Posse students – one from Boston and one from Miami – along with two Posse Plussers (non-Posse students) will be selected to attend the 2019 PossePlus Summit hosted at Deloitte University in Dallas, Texas, this summer. They will be joined by 146 students from the Foundation’s 56 other partner institutions for the first time ever. The weekend will be filled with stimulating discussions as the students bring insights from their schools’ own retreats and reflect on the insights of their peers.

According to Founder Deborah Bial, Posse Foundation was created in 1989 after a student confided in her that he would not have dropped out of college if he had had his ‘posse’ with him. With this story in mind, Bial helped develop relationships with colleges and universities like Hamilton.

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