Pierce College District officials took 30 students to the Students of Color Conference in Yakima from April 17-19.
The Office of Student Life members were excited about the interest in the conference, as only 20 students went last year.
The free conference was attended by students and faculty of two-year universities in Washington state.
Isaac Folitau, equity and diversity coordinator in the Office of Student Life, believes this event is vital for students to attend.
“It is life changing, and I hope other students can go next year,” Folitau said.
While the Office of Student Life met its goal for attendees, it took a lot of work. At first, students were not signing up to attend.
“Students tend to see it as it’s only for students of color, but it’s open for everyone,” Folitau said. “This conference really teaches about diversity, and of course, the majority of it teaches about race and ethnicity, but from the beginning, it actually goes more toward social identity.”
Folitau said students didn’t sign up for the conference because of this idea and because of a general lack of knowledge about the event. In order to reach their goal number of attendees, the Office of Student Life leaders heavily promoted the conference.
This included walking around the College Center to hand out soda cans with information about the conference taped to them as well as give out popcorn while telling students about the event.
Those students who attended the conference went to educational sessions and activities that promote relationship building for students across Washington state.
This conference is important to Folitau because it changed his outlook when he attended last year.
“For me, the reason why this conference is so important is because it changed my view on the world,” Folitau said. “Last year I attended, and we had a lot of educational sessions throughout the conference, and it really opened my eyes towards society and how it looks at people. It motivated me to change the way students see each other here on campus, and motivated me to apply for the job I am in.”
Folitau said that often students and faculty use and see stereotypes, and he hopes this conference can change that at Pierce, or at least for the 30 students going.
“I feel it is important for students to go because students don’t know much about the people they are surrounded with, and it usually makes them come up with stereotypes,” Folitau said. “This conference teaches students all over Washington that we may be different, but we should appreciate and celebrate our differences regardless.”
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