By: Lynette Martinez
A student-run conference promoting social justice, diversity, and student leadership is set to be held at Whatcom Community College Saturday June 7.
The conference, called “Seeds of Change,” is presented by Whatcom’s Social Justice, Equity, and Pluralism Committee, who are members of the Associated Students of Whatcom Community College (ASWCC). The conference is set to be held in Syre from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m
“Students are provided the opportunity to be presenters at this conference when normally they are just students learning at the conference,” said Lead Conference Coordinator Alan Alatorre.
At the conference students and community members will be able “to learn, grow, and engage in conversations around social justice, with the hopes of creating change,” according to the conference flyer.
Alatorre said that the committee has been working on organizing the conference since the last week of winter quarter. He added that they are most excited about the conference being completely student-led and student-ran. This is the first time the conference has been done, and it is intended to be held annually in the future.
“A few students went to the Students of Color Conference in Yakima, Washington and want to bring back what they learned there and implement it at Whatcom,” said Samantha Williams of Whatcom’s Multicultural Academic Support Center (MASC). Williams will be one of four keynote speakers at the upcoming conference.
The Students of Color Conference is one of several conferences that Whatcom students have attended throughout the year, Alatorre said. At the conference, students explored and discussed topics surrounding social justice, diversity, and student leadership among other things.
Alatorre said the conference will begin with a Native American blessing followed by two keynote speakers from Whatcom’s MASC, Samantha Williams and Donna Thorn. Both Williams and Thorn are former Whatcom students.
He added that the conference will also include two keynote speakers from Western Washington University’s Ethnic Student Center, Teena Thach and Polly Woodbury. Both are first-generation students, meaning they are the first in their families to attend college.
“The conference will include a variety of student-led workshops,” Alatorre said.
Students, faculty and community members were invited to submit workshop proposals for the event, he added. Some workshop topics will include mentorship within the Latino community, mentorship with underrepresented students in the community, and issues of micro-aggressions and racist comments on campus, said Interim Director for Multicultural Academic Services Betsy Hasegawa.
Alatorre said the conference will be split into two sessions with lunch in between. Lunch will be provided for free to Whatcom students, and Tacos La Guelaguetza, a local taco truck owned by a Whatcom student’s family will also be selling menu items ranging from $3 to $8, he said.
The conference is open to all students and community members. Alatorre said that early registration is highly recommended but not required and can be done online until June 3. Registration can be done at the conference after June 3.