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UA day of diversity celebrates differences

By Monica Warren
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Wednesday, September 22, 2004
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Students, staff and faculty are invited to join speakers from across the state and nation today during the university's first diversity celebration, UA Discusses Diversity.

Workshops, films and guest speakers are meant "to demonstrate, clearly, from the first moment of the year, the importance of diversity at the UA," a press release said.

UA Discusses Diversity is meant to be the kick-off to a yearlong effort to emphasize diversity on campus.

Carolyn Maddy-Bernstein, director of the Diversity Resource Office, said many students come to UA narrow-minded and slightly nave about different groups. She said it's important for students to understand that even if they don't agree with each other, it's still necessary to show respect.

"When you move away from the university, you have to learn to interact with different people and different groups," Maddy-Bernstein said. "It's important for us to prosper in a business world and also live in a peaceful world."

Activities begin at 10 a.m. at the Writing on the Wall Project on the Mall near Old Main. Students, faculty and staff are invited to help tear down the 37-foot wall that represents the prejudice and biases that build barriers between groups.

Led by Vice President and Senior Associate to the President Edith Auslander, the ceremony to bring down the wall will also feature an address from President Peter Likins.

Following the ceremony, there will be a reception for the community in the North Ballroom of the Student Union Memorial Center. This "Celebration of Unity" will also have a resource fair featuring representatives from campus organizations that deal with diversity issues.

As a part of the Faculty Fellows Speaker Series, Dean Toni Massaro of the College of Law will speak about Affirmative Action at noon in the South Ballroom of the union.

More than 30 workshops dealing with diversity will be presented throughout the day. Topics include the history and significance of Brown v. Board of Education, raising a multicultural family, the culture of hip-hop, diversity in the workplace and many more.

Sofia Ramos, associate to the director of the Diversity Resource Office, said the workshops are of the same quality as those she's seen at national diversity conferences. She said all the workshops will be equally interesting and important because the speakers are known throughout the nation and world.

"These are people you normally wouldn't have access to, but who are giving the time to offer their perspective, their knowledge and their experience," Ramos said.

"The workshops are really awesome," said Prashant Raj, ASUA senator and member of the Diversity Event Committee. "All the speakers are great. It's not just talking about the past, but how we can relate diversity to the future."

"I really encourage every student to go to at least one workshop," Raj said. "If they find one workshop that fits their interests, I know they'll enjoy it."

Gov. Janet Napolitano will address students at the Gallagher Theater at 4:30 p.m.

The day will conclude with a reception and a presentation to the university community by Marc Morial, president and CEO of the National Urban League and former mayor of New Orleans.

Following Morial's speech, the community is invited to attend Urban League Nights, "a program of culture, entertainment and information, including music, comedy and an open microphone for aspiring local artists."

Urban League Nights is the only ticketed event of the day. Tickets are $20 for non-students and $8 for students.

Though there is not a complete calendar in place, "the whole university has been encouraged to put effort into diversity programs for the year," Ramos said.

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