SHSU to host diversity leadership conference

Sam Houston’s multicultural student services and the diversity council is hosting their 12 annual Diversity Leadership Conference. The event will take place Friday, February 26, and Saturday, February 27.

“It’s basically a leadership conference that serves to educate the Sam Houston community on topics of diversity and multiculturalism,” coordinator for multicultural student services Jordan Chang said. “It is sponsored by the office of multicultural student services; however, it is a student led conference by the diversity council.”

The conference is free admission for SHSU students and faculty until today. After today, the price will go up to $10. It is currently $10 for those not affiliated with SHSU, and that price will increase to $20 after today.

“This year, we have students and staff coming from as far as Texas A&M Corpus Christi,” Chang said. “We have representatives from Texas A&M commerce [coming], [and] really over the region.”

Registration for the conference will begin at 5 p.m. in front of the LSC ballroom, and the opening ceremony will begin at 6 p.m. The conference will consist of three Keynote speakers and several different workshops that participants will have their choice of which ones they want to attend.

“It’s funny because this is actually my first year coordinating it [because] I’m new to the university,” Yang said. “However, I can say that this year we do have an eye-catching list of keynote speakers including our closing keynote, Dr. Mark Lamont Hill, who travels the nation and does various talks on diversity and inclusion.”

This year’s three keynote speakers are Monti Washington who will speak on Friday and Ernesto Mejia and Mark Lamont Hill who will both speak on Saturday. Yang said he had the diversity council research and select speakers over the summer for the conference.

“This year, something different is we don’t have a theme,” Yang said. “It’s really a broad topic of diversity. There isn’t a theme that is connecting [the speakers] other than diversity.”

Yang said the diversity council felt Monti Washington was well-received by the audience last year, so they invited him back for this year. Yang also said that Ernesto Mejia, will be discussing disabilities as a form of diversity.

“Ernesto Majia grew up with a disability,” Yang said. “Disabilities are a form of diversity that are often times not mentioned so he kind of speaks on disability during his keynote. So, that’s something that we’re looking forward to because often times, people don’t really consider that.”

Each speaker is paid to speak at the conference. The total cost of the conference is about $40,000.

“They all individually have their own story and their experiences they use to go around to college campuses and talk to students about their experiences and how they have grown and developed from it,” Yang said. “It’s well thought out; that’s why we have the students’ input in it with the diversity council to make sure that it isn’t wasteful spending on this and that.”

Yang said some of the facilitators at the conference will be SHSU organizations as an opportunity for them to sharpen their presenting skills. There will also be an opportunity for university organizations to compete to win $500 by attending the event.

“I want Greek members to know that that opportunity is available for them to earn STAAR packet points for attending the Friday night as an educational session on diversity,” Chang said. “[Organizations that want to compete] will just need to visit our office here in the student activities suite LSC 328 and pick up a student organization competition packet.”

So far, seven organizations have applied for the contest. The deadline for organizations to compete is today.

“It’ll be a great conference,” Chang said. “We’ve worked all year long on it. Right now, it’s just a matter of getting students to attend.”

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