Green River College--empowering students for success
Keynote speaker Michael Benitez was informative and often provocative.
Green River College hosted 175 high school and college students, community members and college staff during its 3rd annual Diversity & Equity conference, held on its main campus March 3.
This year's keynote speaker, Michael Benitez, Dean of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at the University of Puget Sound, was informative and often provocative. Benitez enumerated the range of inequities that have plagued peoples of color, women, people with disabilities, as well as the LGBQT community since the 1960s: higher unemployment, higher incarceration rates, poverty, lack of health care coverage and lower wages.
"We're talking about cultivating a space of critical dialog and of cultural resistance," says Benitez. "This is a courageous and safe space that allows [diverse people] to come together and be able to validate each other and to see that they are not alone in the way that they experience life."
But what does this have to do with Green River College? Why emphasize diversity, equity and inclusion when law and policy exists to protect equal access for all?
The answer lies in planning for student success and not just guaranteeing access.
The College holds equity and diversity conferences four times per year to help create a meaningful dialog regarding the meaning of diversity, equity and inclusion. The conferences aid in the creation of healthy dialogs about the issues of race and social justice.
Offering 10 different workshops, Tuesday's event challenged participants to examine issues of racism, the power of language, and cultural perceptions. Opportunities also included exploration of various educational and training opportunities available locally.
Tuesday’s event challenged participants to examine issues of racism, the power of language, and cultural perceptions.