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College to explore diversity

Liz Harter | Friday, February 9, 2007

Students interested in the importance of increasing diversity on the Saint Mary’s and Notre Dame campuses will have the opportunity to explore the subject at the upcoming Diverse Student Leadership Conference (DSLC).

According to its mission statement, the DSLC aims to inform participants of the adversities and benefits within various academic, social and professional settings. The conference was created last year when current conference chair Kim Hodges, Student Diversity Board (SDB) president Angeline Johnson and class of 2006 alum Claradith Landry felt Saint Mary’s needed an event that combined everything SDB – a student group that represents diversity and tries to foster it through educative programs and events – discusses as well as subjects not normally encountered on either campus.

“We were in need of a vehicle or mode to educate mainstream Saint Mary’s about what each person encompasses [diversity-wise],” Hodges said.

For three days, a series of workshops will examine religious, ethnic, cultural, sexual orientation and gender issues related to diversity.

“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.”

College President Carol Ann Mooney will open the conference Mar. 1 by speaking about the diversity initiative, as well as her views on how to better prepare the campus for experiences of cultural competency.

Many of the workshops will take place Mar. 2, including one directed by keynote speaker Peggy McIntosh.

McIntosh, a professor at Wellesley College, and former professor at Harvard, Trinity College in Washington D.C. and Durham College in England, is a major figure in the recognition of white privilege in the United States. She exemplifies what the conference is about in every way, Hodges said.

“She is a catalyst in shaping society to a culturally competent environment,” she said.

McIntosh will present her keynote speech, “How I Came to See I Had White Privilege and What I’m Learning I Can Do With It” before the closing banquet Mar. 3 in Carroll Auditorium.