Students of Color Conference Opens Safe Spaces for Intersectional Discussions


Helen Luc

One hundred and ten students representing the University of California Santa Barbara campus attended the 24th Annual Students of Color Conference held at UC Riverside Nov. 9 to 11. Alongside other campuses such as UC Los Angeles, UC Irvine, UC San Diego, UC Davis, UC Merced, UC Santa Cruz and UC Berkeley, students attended several workshops where they were able to discuss various topics ranging from transracial adoptees and queer minorities to cultural stereotypes of sex and undocumented immigrants.

The conference started off with a high note, as students gathered to eat breakfast together and enjoyed cultural performances put together by UC Riverside’s various campus organizations and listened to speakers in an inspirational opening ceremony. The theme for this year’s conference was R’ Stories: Embracing our Struggles as Tools for Transformation. In the workshops, students were given spaces to discuss issues pertaining to people of color and to share experiences and insight. As such a diverse group of students came together from different university campuses of varying areas, the workshop discussions were full of insightful stories and passionate attitudes from diverse perspectives, with every workshop being educational and enriching. The delegation leaders for UCSB at this year’s conference were Brandon Pineda and Navkiran Kaur.

“I like seeing everyone come together to experience this,” said Kaur. “I’ve always enjoyed conferences because I learn a lot from them; they’re very hands-on and interactive compared to classroom environments. Also, I really enjoyed the caucuses, which are closed spaces [for people belonging in the same group], because they allow you to get into really intimate discussions.”     Additionally, during the lunch break, students got the chance to enjoy an aptly termed “edutainment” as they watched more cultural performances, listened to speakers and were encouraged to get on the dance floor.  In between the workshops, caucuses and seminars, students were able to contribute to the chalk walk, which displayed chalked art pieces relevant to what students learned at the conference, and the “trigger wall,” which displayed writings and drawings that students considered “triggering,” provoking them in either a positive or negative way.

At the conference, students were given very inclusive spaces to freely discuss their ideas. Before speaking, students were encouraged to give their preferred gender pronouns, and all restrooms were labeled “gender neutral” as opposed to having them separated by sex. Additionally, rather than addressing groups of peers as “you guys,” students were encouraged to address groups of students with “y’all.” In this space, language catered to all different genders and races, allowing individuals to freely communicate without offending others.

Throughout the course of the weekend, students were reminded to bring back the things that they learned to their respective campuses and to apply what they learned to their own lives. On Nov. 19, there will be a debriefing of the conference open to the entire campus in the SRB Multipurpose room from 5 to 7 p.m. where all UCSB students can share what was learned from the conference.

Photo Courtsey of ricardodiaz11