Stovall to deliver message at conference for social justice

By Roxana Moraga

The first Social Justice Conference Saturday will show students how they can change the future.

The University Honors Program, in association with the Center for Black Studies and the Latino Resource Center, will host the Social Justice Conference.

This year’s conference theme is Strengthening Our Campus Community While Developing Culturally Effective Students.

Vanessa Segundo, Honors Program assistant director for programming and communication, said the idea for the conference began over coffee and bagels at a UNIV 101 instructor conference with Regina Curry, John H. Clarke Honors Society adviser.

“Regina Curry and I just started talking about ways we could collaborate. We wanted to create an event that would unite students,” Segundo said. “Almost everyone on campus identifies as part of a certain organization or society, but overall they’re Huskies, and we wanted to bring students together.”

Segundo said it was important to get students to think about social justice in a different light.

“When students think social justice, they automatically think about a march or a rally. They don’t think about ways of incorporating social justice into their careers,” Segundo said.

Curry said she hoped the conference would give students a new frame of reference, as the speakers were strategically chosen for incorporating social justice in their work.

Diana Alday, senior elementary education and Spanish major, said being able to engage in open dialogue about social issues that affect everyone on a daily basis is a good thing.

“Students may not always get a chance to learn those kinds of things in a classroom,” Alday said. “We’re the future; we’re the generation that’s going to bring about social change, so it’s important for us to talk about these issues.”

Lucero Martinez, from the Office of Student Engagement and Experiential Learning, agreed that “it’s important for students to learn from each other, and this conference gives students the chance to do just that.”

This year’s conference will feature keynote speaker David Stovall, associate professor of educational policy studies and African-American studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Segundo said Stovall was invited specifically because he “practices what he preaches.”

“It’s rare to find a professor with a Ph.D who also works in the communities he researches,” Segundo said. “He’s an intellectual thinker, but he’s also a ‘doer’ — he volunteers as a counselor in the south side of Chicago.”

Curry said Stovall is a man who is deeply invested in his work in the community.

“He even put his personal contact information out there for any student to contact him, and he answers their calls and emails,” Curry said.

Ultimately, it is Segundo’s hope that the conference will bring the campus together.

“We are a diversified campus, but a lot of times the focus is on our differences instead of the things that unite us,” Segundo said. “We hope this conference will help students identify common threads.”