Speaker encourages diversity and communication

Chelsea Phillips

Samuel Betances spoke about immigration and developing strategies to help build relationships through diversity and communication on Wednesday April 15. The Race and Ethnicity Council brings in different speakers every year, who discuss current issues. Last year they invited Timothy E. Sams from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. “Each year we focus on a different topic and seek a speaker that has the knowledge of addressing it,” Irma Burgos of Academic Support said. “We invite speakers to campus that speak on issues related to race and ethnicity in our attempt to improve campus racial and ethnic relations and improve campus climate.” Betances travels all over the world to provide technical assistance aimed at building and implementing standards of excellence in diversity initiatives, according to his website. He helps organizations deal with problems involving immigration and he also helps them look at the future. He is challenging organizations to reduce and eliminate prejudice in all forms of discrimination in the workforce. While immigration is a big political problem, Betances doesn’t discuss the political side. “His discussion was not based on politics but more so on diversity and communication,” Burgos said. “He asked students to take ownership of their education and collaborate with their peers to enrich their educational experience. He talked about the importance of reading, learning different languages and faculty involvement.” Burgos said that Betances wants to show attendees the changes that are happening and how to react to them in the future. “[The topic involves] learning the changes in demographics and equip students to work with diverse populations so that within the next few decades they are prepared to meet the demands of an ever changing global society,” Burgos said. “He also mentioned to the students that if you don’t ask the questions you don’t know your options.” Sarah Bawolek was one of the many students in attendance. She found the event to be very informative. “I think it was very interesting and informational,” Bawolek said. “[I see] how the U.S. is assimilating and what you can do on campus to help.” Burgos said she hopes that attendees see the choice they can make about diversity. She also said that she wants people to take what they learned and apply it to their lives. “I hope that attendees learned that they have a choice on whether they want to be part of the change or part of the continuing cycle that perpetuates to the existing challenges faced on predominately white campuses,” Burgos said. “I hoped that attendees were able to take something away from the presentation and be able to apply it to their educational growth and development.”