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Saint Mary’s Student Diversity Board hosts conference

| Monday, March 6, 2017

Saint Mary’s Student Diversity Board (SDB) is hosting its 12th annual Diverse Students’ Leadership Conference (DSLC) on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Senior Kate FitzMaurice, vice president of SDB and chair of DSLC, said in an email that SDB’s mission is to create awareness of diversity in order to educate, provide support and celebrate differences within the Saint Mary’s community. The group creates social events, educational programming and opportunities to initiate change through the perspective of the students.

This year, SDB is holding 26 workshops, more than any other conference in the past. According to Fitzmaurice, these include student presentations and workshops with community leaders. The scheduled workshops cover a large variety of topics, with titles including “Community-Building, Nonviolence and Terrorism in Syria,” “Embracing Mental Health Among Diverse Student Populations” and “Poverty, Diversity and Single Moms.”

The workshops also have various formats. One workshop, “The Stars of Love” led by students Abigail Lynn and Alex Shambery, invites students to put themselves in the shoes of an LGBTQ individual. The workshop “#LikeABelle,” led by students Morgan Matthews, Caylin McCallick and Shambery, invites students to explore how they can be role models both on and off campus.

This year, they have three keynote speakers: President Jan Cervelli, Kristen Matha, class of 2003, and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and filmmaker Jose Antonio Vargas.

FitzMaurice said Vargas is the closing keynote speaker. He will present Wednesday at 7 p.m. in Carroll Auditorium. According to Vargas’s website biography, he is the creator of popular MTV documentary “White People” and published an article in The New York Times about what it is like to be an undocumented immigrant.

“One of us was familiar with him through viewing ‘White People,’ produced by MTV,” FitzMaurice said. “From this, we were able to learn more about Vargas’ background and passions. Furthermore, from watching his talks and reading his essays, it was evident that Vargas is passionate and willing to engage with students by not only sharing his experiences, but by learning from his audiences as well.”

The theme of this year’s conference is “To Love is to Learn,” which FitzMaurice said is inspired by the core value of learning of Saint Mary’s.

To me, this phrase recognizes that learning about differences among us is in fact an act of love and compassion,” she said. “Attending DSLC is just one way to live out this phrase. There is so much we can learn from each other, and this event has the potential to bring our community closer together through doing so.”

FitzMaurice believes the DSLC makes a strong on how students view diversity and the impact it plays on campus culture, and she thinks it’s important that all students attend as many workshops as they can, because discussing diversity and having an open mind improves education.

“This year, we hope to inspire learning, sharing and positive change on our campus and in the greater community,” she said. “SMC promotes the empowerment of students through education and awareness, and I believe that DSLC is a vital part of the Saint Mary’s education.”

FitzMaurice said she is proud to have helped plan this year’s DSLC.

“DSLC is an important part of the Student Diversity Board mission to inspire participants to become catalysts for change in their communities,” FitzMaurice said. “It is my hope that DSLC provides an insightful and inspirational experience for all.”

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