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Southwestern to Host Diversity Conference Oct. 19

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    Linda Lam, a junior education major who is president of the Pan Asian Association this year, put together a collection of costumes from Asia to display at the diversity conference that was held at Southwestern Oct. 19. Lam also taped a map of Asia to the floor of the Olin Lobby, where the costumes were displayed. The purple dress Lam is standing next to is a dress of hers from Vietnam.

Conference will include workshops, performances and a community forum on affirmative action

Southwestern University is hosting a conference titled “Deconstructing the Inner You: An Exploration of Diversity, Gender and Inclusion” on Friday, Oct. 19.

The conference will offer a wide variety of workshops by Southwestern professors on the topic of diversity. “[The professors’] expertise will help us in addressing these complicated issues and address possible solutions to overcome them,” said senior Lizette Villereal, one of the student directors for the conference. Kadidatou Magassa, the other student director for the conference, explained that the conference “will be a great chance for dialogue to take place about controversial topics that people are not always so willing to address.”

The conference will begin with a community forum on affirmative action from 1-2 p.m. in Olin 105 (note change from previously announced location) that will be facilitated by Melissa Johnson, professor of anthropology.

Afternoon workshops include “Religious Diversity and You,” presented by University Chaplain Beverly Jones;  “Spiritual Activist Pedagogies and Anzaldúan Thought: Strategies for Social Justice,” presented by Brenda Sendejo, assistant professor of anthropology; “Culturally Responsive Pedagogy,” presented by Alicia Moore, associate professor of education; and “Envisioning Activism from the Experience of Race,” presented by Omar Rivera, assistant professor of philosophy.

The conference also will include a performance by poet D. Black from 4-5 p.m. in the Bishops Lounge and a 6:30 p.m. screening of the documentary “Vocabulary of Change” featuring Angela Davis and Tim Wise in Olin 105. It will conclude with a step and stroll exhibition at 8 p.m. in the Bishops Lounge featuring student organizations from Southwestern and other universities.

Villereal and Magassa said they began planning the conference in the spring with encouragement from Professor Moore in the Education Department. A similar conference was previously held in 2005.

“Since there has been growth in the diversity of not just the student body but also the organizations of Southwestern, this year was a great time to bring back the conference with a firm base of support,” Villareal said.

The conference is sponsored by the Diversity Enrichment Committee, the Coalition for Diversity and Social Justice, and the Office of Diversity Education.

While the conference in 2005 focused on race and ethnicity, this year’s conference conference will discuss a wide variety of identities.

“[Diversity] includes a lot of different subjects,” Villereal said. “Not just race, but religion, sexuality and many more.”

When asked why they wanted to bring this conference back to Southwestern, Magassa said that Southwestern University is always discussing it has diversity on campus and she wants to take the “extra stride” in talking about the importance of diversity and working to actually educate the public on different issues surrounding diversity.

“This event is sponsored by a lot of different organizations. I hope it can teach others about these issues and to see that hard work goes a long way in making a difference,” Villereal said.

Registration for the full conference is free to Southwestern students, faculty and staff. Members of the public may register for $25. A complete conference schedule and registration materials are available at www.southwestern.edu/about/diversity/conference/

For more information, contact Terri Johnson, assistant dean for student multicultural Services, at 512-863-1342 or tjohnson@southwestern.edu.

Isaac Bernal