Student leaders attend Students of Color Conference

Photo courtesy of Maria Jimenez
Photo courtesy of Maria Jimenez

On April 11, several BC  students attended the Twenty-Third Annual Students of Color Conference held in Yakima, Wash. The Multicultural Student Services Directors’ Council sponsored this event.  It was attended by hundreds of students from across Washington State.

The SOCC is held annually and develops through student suggestions, as well as faculty and staff proposals.

The objective of the conference as stated on the BC website was “to provide a fun, educational experience that promotes leadership, diversity and academic success.”

Speakers included Dr. Darryl Brice on “Students of Color and Their Courageous Journey through Higher Education”, Dr. Taupouri Tangaroon “The Role of Mind, Body and Spirit in Education” and Rinku Sen on “Empowering Communities of Color and Social Responsibility”.

The conference held workshops that focused on identity, skill and personal development, awareness of others, social justice and activism.

This year the conference introduced an increased range of identity workshops that were not present such as the students with disability workshop.Identity workshops also included LGBTQ, Muslim and students with disability. There were also advising meetings depending on a student’s race, identity or what they hoped to learn.

“It was a mix of personal identity, personal development and personal activism,” said Ali Collucci, director of the LGBTQ Resource Center at BC about the types of workshops offered. Before beginning, ground rules to create healthy dialogue and reduce individual anxiety were laid. This was done in hopes of providing a safe and appropriate environment for each participant. Due to the sensitivity of the issues being discussed, participants were expected to maintain a high level of maturity, responsibility and common sense.

Diverse groups of people were present to speak about issues students may face on campus and in other real world situations.  Attendees were of numerous races and ethnicities though the main theme focused on students of color.

Many students who attended the conference said they hope to implement what they learned by interacting and connecting with people they do not know very much about or had personal impressions of before knowing.

A great part of the conference was “to appreciate other people for their values and not just based on their race or their looks,” said Taylor Anderson, a BC student who attended.

Students engaged in learning about perspectives, and distinct experiences. “It was eye-opening,” said Zawdie Terry, an attendee of the conference. “I found there was always more to learn.”

Students present spoke about a positive experience where they began understanding different points of view. Terry said he sought out workshops of cultures he had no previous experience or understanding of. “I will continue to develop that understanding.”

Terry expressed that diversity created strength and enabled more accomplishment with numerous perspectives.

Leslie Mayo expressed a positive experience where great focus and importance was taken to what the students had to say.

Mayo took away that diversity is not limited to race or color but that even within the same culture, diversity was present in a different perspectives, ways of thinking and being.

To Collucci, it was a journey of self-discovery and relations to others.

Students who attended previous year’s conferences saw these changes, and remarked on them. “There was a need for a workshop for students with disability. “ said Mayo.

Identity groups were numerous including a great variety and attracted students of varying backgrounds who worked with each other to better understand the values each culture held.

After the three-day conference students expressed a need to contain and put into practice what they learned in order to instigate a positive change at their campus of BC.