CU will host its 12th annual Diversity Summit next week to “increase awareness of and encourage open dialogue about diversity issues,” according to the summit’s Web site.
The event, sponsored by the Chancellor’s Advisory Committee on Minority Affairs, will start Monday and last for two days in the UMC’s Glenn Miller Ballroom.
Judy Poynter, assistant to the vice chancellor for student affairs, talked about goals of the summit and its influence on students and the Boulder community.
“It’s important for everybody to understand some of the issues that people from diverse populations or from marginalized populations have to deal with,” Poynter said. “It’s important that we learn more about each other and try to understand more about each other, which is what this summit is trying to do.”
This year’s summit will feature keynote speaker professor Robert Jensen of the University of Texas.
Jensen is primarily involved with research on the “radical feminist critique of sexuality and men’s violence” and is involved in several activist organizations working against modern-day U.S. imperialism across the world, according to his Web site.
Poynter said the committee chose Jensen because he has extensive experience working with one of the main topics of this year’s summit.
“We chose him because he does a lot of speaking on white privilege, which we thought would be a great topic for our summit this year,” Joyner said.
Jensen joins an ensemble of other prominent figures, including award winning author and storyteller Joseph Marshall III, and storyteller and oral historian Afi-Tiombe Kambon.
The summit will also feature a student panel, discussion sessions and an interactive theater performance called “Working on It.”
Although the summit is aimed at increasing awareness about diversity issues around campus, Poynter said growth and learning in the subject cannot occur without active participation from the students, faculty and community.
“The committee really works hard on the summit,” Poynter said. “But it’s bigger than them. As a campus, we have to make a commitment that diversity is important. We work very hard to get the word out, but we’ve got to have cooperation from other people to make progress.”
Students at CU have mixed feelings about diversity on campus.
Although it was generally agreed the campus is fairly homogenous, student opinions differ on whether this is an issue or not.
Sam Ansel, a sophomore political science major, said the lack of diversity was not necessarily a problem, and it depends on a variety of factors before it could be judged or understood.
“If diversity is a problem here, we need to know why that is,” Ansel said. “Is it because the school is turning people down that are ethnically diverse, or are minority students just not applying to Boulder?”
Katherine Brooks, a sophomore international affairs major, said though lack of diversity is generally acknowledged as a problem, it would be hard to remedy the issue with unnatural means.
“Everyone always complains that our campus isn’t diverse enough, so there definitely is some sort of issue,” Brooks said. “But it isn’t an easy problem that can just be fixed right away. You can’t really just wake up and decide to increase diversity or racial tolerance on campus overnight.”
Even if the diversity issue cannot be increased right away, Joyner believes the campus community should make an effort to better understand the people it is comprised of.
“We are a diverse campus, and the university setting is perfect for that,” Joyner said. “Because we are an institution of higher learning, an intellectual institution, we should do all we can to get to know and understand better the people that we interact with.”
For a detailed schedule of the Diversity Summit, visit the summit’s Web site
Contact Campus Press staff writer Brian Beer at firstname.lastname@example.org