Students speaking at DIVE conference

It’s all about community, collaboration, and broadening the conversation about race and ethnicity inclusion in higher education. It’s student led—and it’s happening now.

For the second year in a row, DIVE RI—Diversifying Individuals Via Education—is presenting a conference focused on enhancing student leadership and social change on college campuses. The event is organized by the group of multicultural student leaders known as MUSIC (Multicultural Unity and Student Involvement Council).

Last year’s conference attracted 250 attendees and lots of enthusiasm. Conference organizers expect even more at this year’s March 4-5 event, which will build on the foundation set last spring. Members of the DIVE RI team are committed to making this happen. And to add to the excitement this year, the conference welcomes Common—Oscar and Grammy Award-winning artist, author, and king of conscious hip hop—to close the event with a talk entitled “Greatness” on March 5 at 7 p.m.

The team has worked tirelessly to ensure that everyone that attends the conference walks away feeling empowered.

Communication studies major Luckson Omoaregba, who helped to organize last year’s conference, is speakers chairman for the 2016 event“The DIVE RI attendees really made an effort to build bridges and start dialogues with people from different backgrounds and identities,“ he said. “Because of the level of collaboration that occurred at the first conference, we want to challenge our conference attendees to continue working together but also start creating action steps that can lead to positive social changes in higher education and in our communities.”

The goal of DIVE RI 2016 is to raise awareness and inspire student leaders to develop action plans with greater cross-cultural competency. The conference includes an opening keynote by Dr. Tricia Rose, screening of the film “Selma,” and a series of Saturday workshops created and conducted primarily by students for students.

Junior sociology and elementary education major Alexia Williams attended last year’s conference. This year she’s on the DIVE RI 2016 team responsible for speakers and workshop presenters. “Last year’s conference provided me with a space where I could engage in higher level thinking with students who shared a commitment to social justice,” she said. “I am most excited for the attendees to experience the expansion of DIVE RI. The team has worked tirelessly to ensure that everyone that attends the conference walks away feeling empowered.”

This kind of commitment from the DIVE student organizers continues to make a powerful contribution to the University. “We are very proud of our students for bending and blending conversations on diversity with this event,” said Naomi Thompson, associate vice president for the Office of Community, Equity and Diversity. “It has been a wonderful experience for all—students helping students to broaden the understanding and discussions on diversity.”