Bahai News - Baha'i Association puts diversity on display at U. Nebraska
Baha'i Association puts diversity on display at U. Nebraska
Updated: Fri, Sep 21 12:00 PM EDT
By Melanie Mensch
(U-WIRE) LINCOLN, Neb. -- In the midst of the recent racial storm
against citizens of Middle Eastern descent, one group is offering a
conference to promote understanding.
"Beyond Racism: Building Inter-Racial Equity and Understanding"
offers a chance to air questions and concerns about diversity issues.
The first-time conference, sponsored by the University of
Nebraska-Lincoln Baha'i Association and the Lincoln, Neb., Baha'i community,
begins 7 p.m. Friday in the Nebraska Union with a panel discussion among
university and community leaders. Continuing through Sunday, the conference
offers workshops, a multicultural dance and four keynote speakers.
"Diversity is a strength to be valued," said Brian Lepard, law professor
and adviser for the UNL Baha'i Association.
The organization held monthly meetings for diversity discussions during the
last few years but felt "it was time to do something bigger," Lepard said.
"The monthly gatherings were a good start, but we wanted a more
high-profile conference," he said. "This will help galvanize the
community. Our main goal here is to encourage actions plans."
Steve Gonzales, an assistant law professor at the University of La
Verne in Ontario, Calif., will address Latino stereotypes in his
workshop at 4 p.m. Saturday. Students need to learn how to handle racial
differences both professionally and personally, he said.
"The average college student faces a completely different world than
their parents and even grandparents," he said. "Skills about getting
along are important, both at work and in their social lives."
Lepard said he hopes the conference will inspire all students to
"take action in their community" by including other races in their
social circles or fighting against discrimination.
"Prejudice still does exist in subtle ways," he said. "Not a lot of
people who aren't minorities realize that prejudice is alive and well,
but minorities especially still perceive it in many ways."
Neda Molai, president of the UNL Baha'i Association, said she wants
the conference to "build more cultural bridges."
"Our major goal is to build community on campus," the senior
international business and management information systems major said.
The three-day conference costs $20 for students and $40 for faculty,
but half-day and evening prices run $5 for students and $10 for faculty.
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