News Brief: Diversity Symposium Encourages Pride and Confidence

Story by Shireen Fatehi-Sedeh
Photo by Michael Marionneaux

Student Life (SL) held it’s annual Diversity Symposium  March 1 at the Highland Business Center. Activities ranging from interactive seminars to contests and games engaged symposium attendees.

SL Coordinator John Jacobs said he wanted to put on this event because he had similar experiences in college that were beneficial.

“The bottom line of diversity is that students can express themselves and engage in a non-threatening environment,” Jacobs said.

During the “Just because I’m… doesn’t mean I’m…” seminar, participants pushed comfort levels by sharing personal statements about topics often considered taboo.

Statements included:

  • “Just because I’m Mexican… doesn’t mean I speak Spanish.”
  • “Just because I’m from the Middle East… doesn’t mean I’m a terrorist.”
  • “Just because I’m a young minority… doesn’t mean I don’t vote.”
  • “Just because I’m gay… doesn’t mean I will be an inferior parent.”
  • “Just because I look normal… doesn’t mean I don’t have a disability.”

Emily Cook, a student who attended the session  said she loved the experience.

“It’s okay to be open and express yourself,” she said. “In there I felt more comfortable to speak out.”

Keynote speaker Stan Pearson said it was about opening up and moving through discomfort.

“The more uncomfortable someone is with what they are, the more uncomfortable they’ll try to make you feel.”

Pearson said ACC’s Diversity Symposium was the first time participants in his seminar turned the tables and asked him to share personal statements of his own.

“Every time I do this program I pick up something I didn’t know before,” he said.

ACC student Nikera Hyder said she is comfortable with diversity, and thinks the lesson to take away from the day is not to make assumptions.

“Just because you come from somewhere where other people aren’t, just because you have differences, doesn’t mean you don’t have a purpose or importance or uniqueness about you.”

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