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Students from across the state gathered at UCSB this weekend for the 22nd annual Students of Color Conference.
UCSB’s Associated Students distributed over $47,000 — approximately 80 percent of the total event costs — to focus on “Transformation Through Love and Art: Actively Reclaiming Power for Our Community.” All together, roughly 1,000 students from across the state gathered for the three-day conference to support ethnic and sexual minorities through a series of workshops, performances and presentations.
[media-credit id=20164 align=”alignleft” width=”250″][/media-credit]SOCC planning committee member Daniel Alvarenga, a fourth-year linguistics major, said the event attracted students from different backgrounds to discuss pertinent racial issues. Students from all 10 UC campuses, in addition to students from CSU San Marcos, University of Colorado, Smith College and University of the Pacific attended the conference.
“We were all in the phase of being hurt by the hate crimes that were going on,” SOCC co-chair David Preciado, a fourth-year Chican@ studies and sociology major, said. “This conference creates a space for us to dialogue and share.”
In addition to ethnic and racial issues, the symposium welcomed the queer community to share concerns about recent acts of prejudice.
“The past hate crimes at UCSB, especially the ones last summer, were directed towards queer students of color,” Preciado said. “We had workshops that were directed to students who identify at the intersection of queer and students of color.”
The seminar featured a number of keynote speakers, including Noor Aljawad, a second-year Middle Eastern studies and sociology major, who discussed her experiences as a Muslim in post-9/11 America.
Following Aljawad’s speech, poet duo Climbing PoeTree urged the crowd to take action and seek social justice.
“Once you’ve got the knowledge, you have got to make the change,” the duo said.
Attendees participated in three workshops and a caucus throughout the weekend. Workshop themes varied from “2012 admissions policies” to “telling your story,” while caucuses were divided by ethnicity. The admissions policies workshop focused on how recent changes, including requiring high school students to complete 11 of their 15 A-G requirements by the end of junior year and guaranteeing admission for select UCs to the top nine percent — instead of top 12.5 percent — of high school seniors.
UC Berkeley student Annelisa Luong, a fourth-year environmental science major, said these are the biggest changes to be made to UC education in the last 50 years.
“These changes would increase the applicant pool from 30,000 to 60,000, but is that really diversitizing the campuses?” Luong said.
Many students in the workshop agreed that attempts to diversity the UC will not actually affect the ethnic makeup of the University.
“Who is in these admissions offices?” John Domingo, a third-year marine biology major from UC Berkeley said. “Is it just a bunch of white folks who don’t understand our struggles?”
Many students, including third-year UC Los Angeles psychology major Lan Nguyen, said the convention was a rewarding and educational experience.
“For me personally, this is the first conference I’ve attended that focuses on the minorities,” Nguyen said. “I can take back to UCLA with me the knowledge of dealing with racial issues.”
For participants’ entertainment, Saturday night also featured over 30 performances, including “America’s Best Dance Crew” season five finalist Heavy Impact.