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Conference to address diversity

Liz Harter | Thursday, March 1, 2007

Diversity will once again become the main topic of conversation at Saint Mary’s this weekend as the Student Diversity Board (SDB) hosts the second-annual Diverse Student Leadership Conference (DSLC), which begins tonight with a reception and address by College President Carol Ann Mooney.

The Conference will continue Friday and Saturday with workshops throughout the day and a Diversity showcase in O’Laughlin Auditorium at 7:30 pm Friday.

The conference is intended to educate students about the different kinds of diversity each person encompasses, conference chair and student body president-elect Kimberly Hodges said.

“We try to celebrate all kinds of diversity,” Hodges said. “We are attempting to educate participants about various modes of diversity, not generalized in a societal norm.”

The weekends workshop titles include “Notre Dame vs. KKK”, “HIV/AIDS Disproportionately Represented in African American Populations”, “SMC and Beyond” and “Deriving Racial Understanding from our Own Experiences.”

Peggy McIntosh will deliver a keynote address entitled “How I Came to See I Had White Privilege and What I’m Learning I Can Do With It” at 4:15 pm Saturday in Carroll Auditorium.

Conference organizers collected pre-registration forms for the past two weeks and students are encouraged to register if they wish to attend the closing banquet, due to a lack of space in the West Wing of the Noble Family Dining Hall. Registration has been going on for about a month for members outside of the Saint Mary’s and Notre Dame community.

The event received a lot of support from the College administration this year, DSLC faculty liaison Serita Fritzler said.

“There’s been a lot of positive feedback from faculty,” Fritzler said. “They were really willing to send their students, give extra credits and cancel classes.”

It is also noteworthy that the conference netted a renowned figure like keynote speaker McIntosh, Hodges said.

“Pat White [last year’s keynote speaker] was amazing, but being able to go from Pat White to Peggy McIntosh is a great achievement,” Hodges said.

The conference was created last year when current conference chair Hodges, SDB president Angeline Johnson and Class of 2006 alumna Claradith Landry felt Saint Mary’s needed an event that combined everything SDB discusses – a student group that represents diversity and tries to foster it through educative programs and events – as well as subjects not normally encountered on either campus.

Hodges said she hoped that this year participants absorb what they learn at the conference and workshops and apply that to their own lives.

“This year, we will be not only able to offer all that we offered last year, but people will be able to take advantage to that,” Hodges said. “It’s a new year, and [the conference] is bigger and better this year.”