RIVERSIDE, Calif. (www.ucr.edu) — More than 1,000 students from across the University of California system as well as high school students from the local Riverside community are expected to participate in the 24th annual Student of Color Conference (SOCC) at UC Riverside on Nov. 9-11.
UC Riverside’s winning bid was announced by the UC Student Association (UCSA) Board of Directors on July 1, beating out UC Irvine. The UC Riverside bid was assembled by the UCRSOCC Planning Collective, a grassroots group of 20 undergraduate student coordinators, co-chaired by seniors Adriana Cruz and Remie Rahman.
“This is the first time that this conference has not come out of a student government,” Cruz said. “It was collaboration, a grassroots effort by student organizers. It’s a campus community coming together to build what they want to see.”
“Our students are to be commended for their collective and individual effort in winning the bid to host the 2012 UC Student of Color Conference,” Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs James W. Sandoval said. “This accomplishment is a testimony to the character and caliber of our student body. The resourcefulness and unity that the student organizers demonstrated in preparing the bid is truly inspiring.”
The conference is the oldest event sponsored by UCSA and brings together students of color and their allies from across the University of California system to address issues of structural and cultural inequalities. The 2012 theme is “R’Stories: Embracing our Struggles as Tools for Transformation,” with the goal being to focus on “the trials of students of color and provide them with the necessary resources to seize their potential by acknowledging the past, present and future.”
“We chose the theme because it is important to incorporate our past and recognize the struggles of our ancestors, which helped us get here,” Rahman said. “We have our own struggles here in the present and tools and resources that we can use to help future generations.”
With that goal in mind, Cruz said that the committee is working with area high schools to invite the next generation of college students to participate. “We want to show them what college is all about, what resources they will have, and what they will need to do succeed in college,” Rahman said. “We want to help them, incorporate them into the space, and make them feel at home with workshops geared for them.”
In addition, graduate students will also be welcome to participate, both as presenters and participants.
“In the past, graduate students had been underrepresented, and we wanted to change that,” Cruz said, adding that she hopes their participation will encourage more students of color to go into graduate programs.
Organizers are putting an emphasis on education and creating solutions to problems, rather than just rehashing complaints.
“We are striving for change, mobilizing and organizing and giving students the tools to implement change,” Rahman said. “In the past, there has been a lot of complaining about problems. We don’t want a protest, we don’t want a rally. We want to educate people and have them come up with solutions that help others. We know what the problems are, now is the time for action.”
The conference will feature three major seminars on genocide awareness, human trafficking and worker issues. Smaller workshops will be held on a variety of topics, including social justice, leadership development and organizing, and caucus spaces will allow participants to have dialogues on the issues that affect their communities.
In addition to everything else, Cruz and Rahman agreed that they are looking forward to bringing students from throughout the UC system to show off UC Riverside, the fifth most diverse campus in the country.
“Our campus has so much to offer, so many resources that many other universities don’t have,” Rahman said. “To have students come to our campus and to see what we have achieved will inspire them to go back to their campus and have something, a goal, that they can work on.”
With much of the planning complete, organizers are working to put the finishing touches on the conference, including finalizing speakers and entertainment, seeking sponsorships, and promoting the conference with the City of Riverside and area businesses. Workshop proposals will be accepted beginning in August.
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