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Stanislaus State engages in month-long dialogue on equity, diversity
CSUS diversity
Turlock Mayor Gary Soiseth (center) speaks at the Leadership Summit on Inclusivity held Friday at Stanislaus State. The summit launched the "29 Days of Equity and Diversity," by the Universitys Committee on Affirmative Action to advance the campus conversation on inclusivity. - photo by CANDY PADILLA / The Journal

Key leaders from Stanislaus State and the City of Turlock gathered for a roundtable discussion on Friday that celebrated diversity and encouraged inclusivity both on campus and throughout the city.     


This event was just one of the many discussions, speeches and performances scheduled for February, which was deemed as “29 Days of Equity and Diversity” by the University’s Committee on Affirmative Action to advance the campus conversation on inclusivity.


“While this truly is a complex issue, the conversation should at the very least examine whether or not access to opportunities within our campus is open equally to all and whether all segments of the campus community feel welcomed, valued and integral,” wrote Stanislaus State President Joseph Sheley in his President’s update to faculty and staff. “If not, how do we go beyond tolerance and accommodation and achieve a more positive level of equality and inclusion?”


After opening remarks from Turlock Mayor Gary Soiseth and Sheley on Friday, the summit featured Turlock native and Stanislaus state alumna Lynn Murphy, who is currently an independent consultant for foundations and international and nongovernmental organizations. Lynn worked for nine years at the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation as a Senior Fellow and Program Officer. She holds a Ph.D. in International and Comparative Education and an M.A. in International Education Administration and Policy Analysis from Stanford University.


While working in the Global Development and Population program, Murphy founded an initiative in partnership with the Gates Foundation to improve the quality of primary schools in the developing world. This initiative directed more than $110 million across seven countries to catalyze and support efforts to improve learning for the poorest children.


The lunch also featured Christina Lemonda, who is the Deputy Director of the International Rescue Committee.


“Diversity is appreciated both on campus and throughout the city,” said Soiseth. “Turlock is a community that welcomes and includes people with diverse cultures, religions and backgrounds, and we reject all forms of intolerance, prejudice and discriminations. It’s our differences that make Turlock a great city.”


Although Friday’s round table discussion was only for those with an invite in hand, Stanislaus State’s month-long celebration of equity and diversity will continue on Monday with “Ending Social Oppressions, Building Cross-Cultural Alliances” with Hugh Vasquez at 7 p.m. in Snider Recital Hall for the general public. Vasquez is a senior associate with the National Equity Project in Oakland and a speaker and educator on social justice issues.


On Wednesday, the campus will host two more public events, starting with “African and African-American Literature and Culture” from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. in the Faculty Development Center with Nigel Hatton, assistant professor of literature at the University of California, Merced.  Later that evening from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. in the Event Center, the public can view the “Hmongstory 40 Project,” which is a traveling exhibition of Hmong photographs, art, stories and artifacts that commemorate the 40th anniversary of the migration of Hmong refugees from Laos and Thailand to the United States.


A writing workshop, reading and question and answer session is scheduled from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and at 6 p.m. on Feb. 22 in the Faculty Development Center. Hosted by Porsha Olayiwola, who is described as a “Black, poet, dyke-goddess, hip-hop feminist, womanist, friend—a performance artist who believes in pixie dust and second chances” and the reigning Individual World Poetry Slam Champion, the morning event will be a writing workshop, and the evening session will feature a 45-minute poetry reading and Q&A.


The campus will near the end of its month-long series on inclusivity with Emmy Award-winning PBS documentary “Sikhs in America” from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on Feb. 29 in Snider Recital Hall. Co-directed by Marissa Aroy, the film profiles the Sikh community in the United States and explores the maintenance of religious and cultural traditions while also participating in the American dream.


Stanislaus State’s “29 Days of Equity and Diversity” will culminate from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on March 1 in Snider Recital Hall with “Delano Manongs,” an Emmy-nominated film that was also directed by Aroy. Throughout the film, viewers will watch the story of Filipino farmworkers who instigated one of the biggest labor struggles in American history—the Delano Grape Strike of 1965.


For more information on these events, as well as for others held off-campus and not sponsored by the university, visit