Pete Erschen has worked for nearly 20 years in Oregon with college students, mostly at Pacific University where he has served roles in student activities, student housing, and services for students with disabilities. He was recognized by the National Association of Campus Activities for his professional work and volunteer efforts in the association with a Legacy Award in 2018. Pacific University also recognized his contributions to the University, in part for his efforts as chair of the University Diversity Committee and interim co-director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.
Pete grew up in the 1980s in south St. Louis County, in a white European-American, Catholic family, of German, Irish, and Swiss ancestry. Beginning to come out as a gay man while he was in college was one important part in his journey for liberation. Pete studied communication and psychology at Saint Louis University. He regards studying communication there, especially courses taught by Dr. Karla Scott– who now also interns with StirFry, as foundational to his understanding of the connections between people and their social identities. Pete went on to get a master’s degree in student counseling and personnel services from Kansas State University.
Pete sees the impacts of oppression, racism, and disconnection everyday with the students with whom he works. He continues the work with StirFry Seminars because he feels future generations hunger for us all to do this work, indeed we owe it to them. Pete has witnessed the mindfulness in StirFry’s approach transform connections and develop understanding between people. Pete believes that “white folks being mindful to what we have forgotten– our relationships with people of color and our collective humanity– is an essential part to making peace from the ongoing impacts of racism and other forms of oppression.”