Diversity Conference Celebrates Inclusion
The September 20 event will feature author and activist Angie Thomas as keynote speaker.
SUNY Brockport’s commitment to diversity comes into the spotlight — as both a celebration and a promotion of continued, open-minded dialogue — with its 18th annual Diversity Conference September 20.
Each fall, the conference offers presentations and activities to enhance awareness of the divergent views and cultures that make up the College community. This year’s theme, “Building a Strategic Roadmap for Inclusive Excellence,” focuses on making Brockport an increasingly positive environment in which to learn, work, and live.
“The College is committed to institutional priorities which focus on the attainment of inclusive excellence,” said Chief Diversity Officer Cephas Archie. “As the annual Diversity Conference purposes to build a more collaborative institutional culture and community, it is our privilege and responsibility to facilitate such opportunities.”
Presentations throughout the day will cover an array of topics such as the needs of student veterans, diverse voices and texts in the classroom, Deaf students’ education, gender equality in the US and Russia, fostering compassion in future social workers, and navigating racial discord on college campuses.
There also will be larger, specialized workshops led by Angie Thomas, activist and author of The Hate U Give; College at Brockport President Heidi Macpherson and Department of English faculty, offering literary perspectives on Thomas’s novel; and Nazareth College President Daan Braveman on the civil rights movement, including reflections on his attendance at Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech.
“Twenty-nine presentations from local and regional academic presenters will offer attendees diverse, purposeful, and rewarding perspectives that cultivate transformative learning, civic engagement, and cultural humility,” said Archie. “Honoring our commitment to Build a Better Brockport, this year’s conference will emphasize our intentionality in building it together.”
Thomas will close the conference with a keynote address, “Finding Your Activism and Turning the Political into the Personal,” at 7 pm in the Special Events Recreation Center (SERC). The Hate U Give, her debut novel, was inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement and tackles the complex issues of racism and police violence through the eyes of its 16-year-old protagonist. It has topped the New York Times young adult best-sellers list for 78 weeks and is being published in 30 countries. A film adaptation will be released in October.
The Hate U Give was the 2018 Summer Reading Program selection at the College. First-year students received a copy of the book during Summer Orientation and will participate in themed discussions, projects, and events throughout the fall semester.
“The book as a whole was incredibly inspiring. It’s about such an important yet touchy topic,” said freshman Megan Gessin. “I have some questions prepared so am looking forward to hopefully getting them answered. Angie Thomas is such an incredible woman, and I cannot wait to meet her.”
This is the second year in which the Summer Reading Program and the Diversity Conference have joined forces, with last year’s keynote speech delivered by Wes Moore, author of The Work: Searching for a Life that Matters. Other past keynote speakers have included Liz Murray, Wade Davis, Arsalan Iftikhar, and Phylicia Rashad.
Additional events throughout the conference will include:
Organizational Showcase: 11 am – 1 pm, Seymour College Union Ballroom
More than 30 Brockport Student Government and nonprofit organizations will be on hand to talk about their advocacy work and recruit new members. Interactive activities will include a drumming circle and henna tattoos.
Study Abroad Fair: 11 am – 2 pm, Seymour College Union Main Lounge
Performance Showcase and International Dessert Sampling: 5:30 – 6:45 pm, SERC
The full schedule and registration are available on the conference website. Walk-in registration will be accepted at the conference based on available space but is not guaranteed.
“It all comes down to how we treat each other,” said Heather Packer, staff assistant in the Office of Diversity, about the conference’s themes. “If we don’t have the basics of open-mindedness, compassion, and respect, we can’t get any work done. We have to encourage and support each other. Upholding those values is how we build a better Brockport.”