Teach-in to tackle campus diversity issue

Issues such as racism and diversity will come to the center of attention this weekend for the Race and Campus Culture Teach-in. The event will take place in the College Union Ballroom on Sunday, March 9 from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Students are highly encouraged to attend the teach-in, where facilitators of the event will lead groups of attendees in an in-depth conversation about blackface, thug-theme parties, the history of minstrelsy, white privilege and other relevant topics.

The teach-in is partially in response to the divisive blackface incident that took place in the fall semester, but also addresses issues of race at a national and even international level.

"Geneseo... recognized first-hand the need for careful, critical and deliberative examination of the complexities surrounding racialized performances such as theme parties and blackface," read an invitation sent to students earlier this semester.

According to a document on the event's Web site that discusses the teach-in's core principles, "The main point of the teach-in is to critically examine and reflect on key historical, contemporary, and local issues related to racism. Facilitators and participants may, over the course of the year, find themselves examining and struggling with their own attitudes, preconceptions, motives and actions."

Attendees are expected to read provided materials before attending the teach-in. The readings can be found on ERes; To access the files, students should search for course number cc113 and input the password "important."

"We encourage you to read widely and deeply," the planning committee stated on the Web site. "Because there are indeed many things to read, you may want to follow [the guide provided on the Web site] to make your preparation easier."

The material largely deals with cases of racism on college campuses across the nation, but also includes a wide variety of topics.

Colleen Vasey, a junior and facilitator for the event, expressed what she considers the importance of the teach-in.

"By just listening to other people's opinions, ideas and thoughts, whether through dialogue or readings, my world has gotten so much bigger," Vasey said. "Being able to branch out and discuss issues that affect everyone, such as race, really connects people together and gives us the tools to become more compassionate, more aware, and more able to take a stand against injustice. The teach-in will hopefully spark this type of necessary dialogue."

The teach-in planning committee is comprised of senior Jasmine Montgomery, Coordinator of Multicultural Programs Fatima Rodriguez-Johnson, English professor Beth McCoy, and history professors Emilye Crosby and Joe Cope.

The Geneseo diversity Web site can be found at http://www.geneseo.edu/CMS/display.php?dpt=diversity.