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“Let’s Make It Real, Leap Into Diversity” Event Draws in Campus Community

The University is again looking to spread a message of diversity through its annual diversity awareness programs. Two sessions of the program took place last Wednesday at the “Let’s Make It Real, A Leap Into Diversity” event, which began with a one hour introductory session at 1:15 pm and an extended two hour session at 2:30 pm on the second floor of the Rebecca Stafford Student Center.

This event, run by the American Conference on Diversity, was to highlight some of the major issues with and types of discrimination that can take place on a daily basis. The events focus on how to overcome and eliminate the bias some face every day as a result of height, weight, color, creed or orientation, among other factors.

“It was very informative and interactive,” said Judith Nye, Associate Vice President of Academic Foundations and General Education. “[It] addressed some serious issues. I think a lot of folks took away some important insights.”

Nye also commented on the job that the conference is doing. “The American Conference on Diversity is becoming a major force and the University has partnered [with them] on a number of occasions,” she added.

Those in attendance were referred to as participants, rather than audience members, for two reasons. First, everyone was expected to join in group exercises throughout the presentation. Second, everyone participates in practicing diversity whether they promote bias, prohibit it or simply ignore it.

Everyone was told that they would discuss things that would not be pleasant to talk about. Conversation is the key to connection, and connection leads to understanding; this point was emphasized throughout the event.

One of the aspects of the event was a short video featuring a variety of college students that had performed internships with the organization. They discussed ways in which they had to fight discrimination, such as one student whose roommate was told she would “need a complete makeover before she even has a chance” of joining an unnamed sorority. A Muslim student then discussed how she was walking by a man who was handing out bibles. The man proceeded to shout, “You’re wicked! You’re all wicked!” at the aforementioned student.

After a brief introduction from Elizabeth Williams-Riley, the Vice President of the American Conference on Diversity, groups of eight were formed to discuss a variety of questions. Following these talks, group spokespeople shared highlights from the conversations with the group.

“It was great to talk about these issues, and from talking about them with each other, we learn to interact with each other,” said Julian Williams, Director of Affirmative Action and Human Relations at the University. He is in the process of joining the regional board of the American Conference on Diversity.

“I think we’re very diverse here on campus, but it really addressed issues that often aren’t talked about,” said Victoria Rivera, a student participant. The American Conference on Diversity is a non-profit organization based in New Brunswick, NJ. They host events across the nation to teach tolerance and understanding.