On Nov. 20, the Center for Undergraduate Research and Scholarship is holding the fifth annual Undergraduate Symposium on Diversity. The symposium is expected to take place from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Lenhart Grand Ballroom, located inside the Bowen-Thompson Student Union.
The keynote speaker for this event will be Chief Diversity and Belonging Officer Jennifer McCary. She will be giving her speech “Bound by the Unconscious” at the start of the event from 9:45 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.
Directly after McCary’s speech, poster viewing and creative presentations will take place.
Undergraduate students from various backgrounds will present research and creative art pieces on topics related to a range of diversity subjects such as race, ethnicity, culture, sexuality, age, ability, gender and socio-economic status.
Top presenters will receive an original glasswork sculpture made by Dr. Joel O’Dorisio, BGSU faculty member and glass-blowing artist.
The annual event was formerly held the week of Martin Luther King Jr. Day in January. Soon after, it was pushed to February due to BGSU’s extended winter break. The date change led to a fluctuation in the level of attendance, reflecting in the new decision to host the symposium in November. The hope is that this recent change will make the event more accessible for students while they are still on campus
Director of the Center for Undergraduate Research and Scholarship Dr. Cordula Mora said there are over 40 proposal submissions for this year’s event. Mora said this is an encouraging number in comparison to the same event held in February of the past year, which got half as many submissions.
“Integrated students get to present about important topics related to diversity,” Mora said, describing the overall importance of the event.
In 2018, the range of diversity topics went from food insecurity, urbanization and high rates of veteran homelessness to topics on human trafficking, language development and minority representation in film.
Mora continued to describe the symposium on diversity as an opportunity “giving integrated students that voice.”
Although the due date for presentation proposal submissions was on Nov. 6, CURS encourages students, staff and other individuals with an interest in educating themselves on diversity to come and show support.
“Diversity education bridges the gap between different student populations,” graduate assistant for Diversity Education and Multicultural Retention, Paul Mendez, said.
Mendez believes events such as the Undergraduate Symposium on Diversity are important in terms of showing support and celebrating the identities of those outside of the majority population on campus.
He also believes that an institution whose mission statement includes diversity should put forth the effort by holding more events like this to ensure diverse populations are set up for success.
Similar to Mendez, undergraduate student diversity educators believe that this experience will be fundamental for attendees by bringing awareness to issues that are otherwise not often brought up in conversation.
“It gives students the opportunity to learn about cultures, identities and experiences that are different than their own,” Office of Multicultural Affairs Ambassador Caity Dorfmeyer said.
As an ambessador, Dorfmeyer is constantly unpacking issues surrounding diversity with aims to combat the lack of understanding, support and acceptance of those who experience discrimination based on their identities.
As a whole, this event aims to discuss the opportunities and challenges of diversification and explain the importance of including diversity in higher education and society.