Forum helps for better understanding

Diversity forum brings student understanding in different ways

Kylee Jacobs, Staff Reporter

The 2019 Fall Diversity Forum, hosted by Dr. Yarbrough and Dr. Toms kicked off on Tuesday, Oct. 15 with programs and performances by various groups, until the conclusion of the event on Thursday, Oct. 17.

The event began with a welcome from Chancellor Dwight C. Watson about the central theme of the event of “Telling Our Stories”, and followed the evening with both a performance from TIFU and ‘Cultural Conversations’.

TIFU, a student organization focusing on the organization, management, promotion and support of African American arts and related programs, had both a dance and a voice performance by the various members of the group. They also shared the history of their organization and broke down the various departments they have, welcoming anyone in the community to join and be a part of their group.

Following their performance, a group of about 150 students and faculty from various parts of the world sat in different groups and went around asking questions and learning about their similarities and differences from one another. Questions ranged from simply introducing yourself to values you hold to important foods you make with family members.

Mohammed Al Khathaln, a junior who helped plan the event, was very enthused with how the experience turned out.

“It’s just an amazing concept. We each have our life, we each have our own entirely different conversations, yet we have so many similarities,” he said. “All students should be able to know about this, it’s a great opportunity to have those interactions with people you have so many cultural differences with, and with person to person we find we all have these similar things.”

Following Cultural Conversations was the Green Card Voices Book Launch and Panel Discussion held in Summers Auditorium. Their mission is to be able to share the various stories of the nation’s 40 million immigrants and to be able to put a human face to it. From October 16 to November 16, a Green Card Voices Display will be hosted on both the Whitewater Campus and the Rock County Campus. The Whitewater Campus will have the exhibit from October 16 to 30 in the Andersen Library, and the Rock County Campus will feature it from the 31 to November 16 at the Lenox Library.

The final event of this forum was the unveiling of the central theme “Telling Our Stories”, a video compilation of students and faculty from around campus answering questions about who they are, why they are a warhawk, and what keeps them as a warhawk.

Dr. Kenny E. Yarbrough, Chief Equity, Diversion and Inclusion Officer said this was his favorite part of the forum.

“It got lost in my head, ‘Telling Your Story’, so I pitched it to the committee and that’s what we decided on. We’re unveiling our stories. The people from campus we interviewed, they were all so diverse in their stories, and that’s everything.”

Part of the finale of the Diversity Forum was a performance by three members from the forensics team, each focusing on separate subjects such as the Indian Child Welfare Act, minorities being jailed only by not being able to afford bail, and breaking Asian beauty stereotypes.

Megan Stephens, a junior who spectated the event, was especially impressed by the forensic speakers.

“I never thought about cash bail, that really stuck out to me a lot, I never thought about the different minorities getting set not being able to be free just because they can’t afford it, I never thought about that kind of perspective.”

Dr. Yarbough hoped this was the effect students got from this event overall.

“I just hope our campus community will get the gist of what we’re doing, and it’s for us to really understand each other in a different way, not just go off of what we see from people but really to hear we have more similarities than differences.”

The Diversity Forum is a year long event, with a Spring Diversity Forum on its way. For more information on either this Forum or the upcoming one, email the Office of Equity,

Diversion, and Inclusion at [email protected]

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