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February 15, 2017

Pennsylvania college's Democrats wear puzzle pieces to address white privilege

Colleges Race
Elizabeth town College Democrats Elizabeth town College Democrats/Facebook

The college Democrats group at Elizabethtown College wore white pins shaped like puzzle pieces in an effort to start a conversation about white privilege.

Students at a central Pennsylvania college are wearing white pins shaped like puzzle pieces in an effort to start a conversation about white privilege.

The Elizabethtown College Democrats said earlier in February they would be wearing the pins after being inspired by a similar campaign started by Wisconsin pastor Barb Girod.

"Barb made a commitment to wear a white puzzle piece pin every day for a year to force herself to think about her white privilege and the impact white privilege has on people of color," the group said on Facebook. "This project, along with ours, forces everybody to think about racial issues people face daily."

The group held a kickoff event on Saturday. The school issued a statement about the campaign Tuesday after the campaign caught local and national media attention.

"Participation in this club, and the campaigns it sponsors, are entirely optional, as is every student club on campus," the statement read.

"We encourage our students to confront issues of racism, sexism and intolerance, and are proud to be a community of diverse beliefs," the school added.

Out of about 1,800 undergraduate students at the Lancaster County college, 86 percent are white, according to Forbes. Black students make up 2.6 percent of the undergraduate population.

In a Local 21 CBS News segment, students said they had received some negative feedback to the campaign but added it was important to start a conversation about race, especially since Elizabethtown is a majority-white campus.

More than 50 students, alumni and community members had committed to wearing the pins, the group said Tuesday.