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April 05, 2016

Diversity conference asks: What do you stand for?

people holding signs stating

Ashley Campbell hopes each person who attends this year’s diversity conference on April 8 takes away one simple thing—a list of five personal commitments to help further diversity and inclusion at the University and within the greater society.

Campbell, director of diversity programming with the Office of Faculty Development and Diversity, says this year’s conference and its theme—“#URDiversity: What Do You Stand For?”—is a “natural fit with the social climate and the climate of our institution.”

Shaun King
Shaun King

Full schedule of this year's diversity conference

Keynote speaker Shaun King, senior justice writer for the New York Daily News, is a prominent figure in the national Black Lives Matter movement. He has written about discrimination, police brutality, the prison-industrial complex, and social justice in the wake of violence in New York; Baltimore; Cleveland; Ferguson, Missouri; Charleston, South Carolina; and other cities.

Widely known for using Twitter and Facebook to tell stories of injustice, King’s social media updates have influenced how the world knows about those most affected by racism and police brutality.

King will discuss current national social movements and organizational strategies to connect individuals and organizations across the country fighting against social injustice. His address begins at 9 a.m. in Strong Auditorium.

There will be a question-and-answer session following the speech.

“I hope to leave students and staff with some context of how to understand what I’m calling this new civil rights movement we’re in,” King says. “We live today more than any point in history in the moment, in a tweet and Instagram world. We’ve become so focused on micro moments in history.”

This year’s conference comes on the heels of an academic year that has included numerous discussions of race and diversity at Rochester—part of an initiative to address those issues at the University.    

Be part of the conversation

The University’s seventh annual diversity conference, “#URDiversity: What Do You Stand For?,” will be held Friday, April 8, at sites throughout the River Campus.

Conference attendees are encouraged to use #URDiversity, #WDYS4, and #BlackLivesMatter in social media discussions about the event.

Conference Schedule

President and CEO Joel Seligman established the Presidential Commission on Race and Diversity in November in response to a three-page petition and list of demands that students felt needed to be addressed to improve the racial climate on campus.

One of the main topics of concern was the use of the social media app Yik Yak, on which people had anonymously posted threatening and racist comments.

The commission held several meetings and eight town hall forums across the University before submitting its initial report to Seligman at the end of January.

The initial report recommended that Yik Yak be banned from use of the University wifi networks. Seligman did not support the ban but endorsed steps aimed at eliminating racist messages on Yik Yak.

Further recommendations with respect to students and to faculty and staff will be made in a final report—which will include information collected in faculty, staff, and student surveys in February and March.

An antiracism campaign, guided by the message We’re Better Than That, also launched this spring.

Workshops at this year’s conference cover issues pertaining to race, inequality, community-building at local, national, and global levels.

The overall vision for the conference, Campbell says, is to inspire people to become engaged with such issues at a personal, professional, and societal level.

“We want people to be active members in a society they create,” she says.


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