The College at Brockport’s 14th Annual Diversity Conference

Building Community Through Diversity: Respecting Difference
Thursday, October 2, 2014

Watch Wade Davis keynote

This year’s theme, “Building Community through Diversity: Respecting Difference,” will highlight diversity as an important value in building and nurturing a community through dialogue that addresses the myriad of challenges facing our society, as well as our growth in understanding and acting upon issues of diversity. Our Conference seeks to promote open-mindedness, celebrate diversity, and promote awareness of divergent views on our college campus and within our community. The conference also serves as a forum in which to establish or enhance self-awareness in relation to community building endeavors.


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Wednesday, October 1st
6:30 PM

Shoulders to Stand On

Evelyn Bailey, Gay Alliance of Western NY

Edwards Hall, Room 103

6:30 PM - 8:30 PM

Shoulders to Stand On , a full length documentary film, captures the stories, struggles and achievements of our gay pioneers, highlights many events that put Rochester, NY in the local and national spotlight, and celebrates the spirit of a community that is bound together with a steadfast sense of pride.

Experience the stories of courage, sacrifice and accomplishments of those whose shoulders we stand on.

Thursday, October 2nd
8:00 AM


The College at Brockport

Seymour College Union, Lobby

8:00 AM - 11:30 AM

Register for the Diversity Conference here.

9:00 AM

Welcome, VIP Greeting

The College at Brockport

Seymour College Union, Ballroom

9:00 AM

Presentation of

  • Diversity Engagement Awards
  • Douglas Feldman LGBTQ Paper Award

Joel Frater, EdD, Assistant Provost for Diversity

William Mitchell, President, Brockport Student Government

John R. Halstead, PhD, President

9:15 AM

Keynote Address

Wade Davis

Seymour College Union, Ballroom

9:15 AM - 10:15 AM

Wade Davis, advocate, writer, speaker, educator and former NFL/NFL Europe player

11:00 AM

Anything You Can Do I Can Do Better: Maintaining Inclusion Through Disability Awareness

Jessica James, The College at Brockport

Cooper Hall, New York Room

11:00 AM - 12:15 PM

Individuals who live with disabilities or developmental delays are usually perceived and labeled negatively by the media. Examples of negative labels include “wheelchair bound,” “retarded,” “handicapped,” and “crippled”. These perceptions can affect others’ attitudes of what such persons are capable of, and it also affects how limited opportunities in employment, education, and recreational activities are to persons with disabilities. This workshop will examine the public and media's attitude of ableism and how it is negatively impacting efforts to establish and maintain inclusive environments, as well as what can be done about it.

Awareness of Visual Impairments

Kylie Britt, The College at Brockport

Seymour College Union, Rm 119

11:00 AM - 12:15 PM

A person with a visual impairment has the same cognitive ability as an individual without a disability, although they may need adaptations in their environment to achieve the same goals as a person without any impairment. There are different definitions of visual impairments based on the severity from low vision to blindness. Legal blindness can be due to reduced visual acuity or visual field, which can be caused by many different types of diseases or disorders. The concepts of vision loss can be best understood through hands-on examples and activities that allow the participant to truly understand some of the things that a visually impaired person experiences and why certain adaptations may be necessary. People with visual impairments tend to have differences in their communication characteristics. For example, they tend to not use hand motions and facial expressions because they do not mean much to them, but they will instead favor tone of voice and inflection. Interacting with a person with visual impairments includes respecting their necessary adaptations, which may include different devices, mobility tools, or even a guide dog. Individuals with visual impairments cope with their vision loss in different ways depending on their age when the loss occurred and the support they received. As a person with visual impairments goes outside of their comfort zone, to try new things or go to unfamiliar places, it’s important to be respectful of their needs.

Cultural Showcase

The College at Brockport

Seymour College Union, Main Lounge

11:00 AM - 2:00 PM

LGBT Legal Rights

Julia Sáenz

Seymour College Union, Room B116 (Basement Level)

11:00 AM - 12:15 PM

Attorney Julia Sáenz runs the LGBT Rights Project at Empire Justice Center, a public interest law firm in downtown Rochester. This project provides free legal services to low-income LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) clients in Western and Central New York, with a focus on anti-discrimination and immigration cases. The legal landscape is constantly evolving with respect to this population, whether in the context of employment, education, health, or immigration, and advocates often find creative new ways to secure their clients’ rights. This presentation will focus on the legal protections available for these communities on a local, state, and federal level.

Respecting LGBTQ Needs on Campus, In the Community and Globally (Panel Discussion)

Wade Davis
Evelyn Bailey, Gay Alliance of Western NY
Doug Scheidt, The College at Brockport
Lucky Summer Light, The College at Brockport

Seymour College Union, Ballroom West

11:00 AM - 12:15 PM

This panel discussion, featuring Keynote speaker Wade Davis, activist and filmmaker Evelyn Bailey, student activist Lucky Summer Light, and Dean of the School of Education and Human Services Doug Scheidt, will address a range of contemporary political and social Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendered, Queer, Questioning, Intersex, Asexual, Allies and Pansexual (LGBTQQIAAP) issues facing local, regional, and national communities. Our speakers bring a range of experiences and knowledge to bear on questions of the process of historical change; diverse and divergent needs within LGBTQ communities; the politics of intersectionality; best practices for raising funds, awareness, and support; and relations between local campus needs and those of the broader community and nation.

Select Respect: Sexual Violence Prevention Through a Social Justice Lens

Caitlin Powalski, The College at Brockport

Seymour College Union, Rm 220 (2nd floor)

11:00 AM - 12:15 PM

Relationship violence, sexual violence, and stalking are public health and social justice concerns that impact all persons, independent of age, gender, race, socio-economic class or sexual orientation. The Center for Select Respect, through Prevention and Outreach Services, addresses these concerns by fostering a “culture of respect”. This culture contributes to safe learning and living environments that promote personal development, healthy relationships, accountability, and community engagement.

Studying “Other” Cultures: Teaching the Middle East in a World Literature Class

Sevinç Türkkan, The College at Brockport

Hartwell Hall, Hartwell Theater

11:00 AM - 12:15 PM

This session will explore the ethical dimensions of teaching the Middle East in a literature class to undergraduate students in the US. The speaker, Sevinç Türkkan, will draw on the experience of having taught a course on cross-cultural comparisons, in which she focuses on the literatures of the Middle East in relation to their European counterparts. Türkkan will take Orhan Pamuk’s The Black Book as a point of departure and read the literatures of the Eastern and Western traditions, ancient and modern, in relation to this novel. This methodology is based on her argument that today teaching the Middle East demands a global context, emphasizing continuities, carefully explaining the reasons for discontinuities among literary traditions, and stressing interconnections and commonalities between what otherwise appears to be two isolated and alien worlds.

Türkkan situates her argument within debates around competing definitions and methodologies regarding what constitute World Literature. She analyzes the place of Middle Eastern Literature in the world literary paradigm and discusses the rhetoric of difference in relation to the Middle East, its literary and cultural texts. By stressing the importance of positionality, she goes beyond the focus on supposedly inherent cultural differences and the identity politics that have informed much of the work on the Middle East. Türkkan contends that frameworks that stress difference are inappropriate models for teaching the Middle East today when we face policies that strive to highlight, even invent, a whole panorama of difference and dichotomies to justify foreign policies of expansion and military intervention.

Underrepresentation of African-American Literature, Specifically Looking at the New York State Common Core

Helem Fabre, University at Buffalo

Seymour College Union, Gallery

11:00 AM - 12:15 PM

Recently, the New York State P-12 Common Core Learning Standards, internationally-benchmarked and evidence-based standards, have been added to state curriculum. After looking at the selected books suggested for literature in the Common Core list of suggested books of stories, drama, and poetry, one wonders how students in urban settings could make educative connections. This session will look at the effect of the lack of African-American authors of children’s literature provided in “the Common Core Learning Standards in New York State” which are to expose students to, and help them to understand, different cultural perspectives. How can these children, especially the African American ones, make connections to the literature when they cannot relate to the characters and their cultural perspectives about the world in which they live?

12:45 PM

Multicultural Food Tasting

The College at Brockport

Seymour College Union, Ballroom

12:45 PM - 2:00 PM

2:00 PM

College Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders in Residence Halls: Respecting Difference, Embracing Diversity, and Building Community

Jie Zhang, The College at Brockport
Rebekah Feller, The College at Brockport

Edwards Hall, Room 105

2:00 PM - 3:15 PM

Few studies reported the concerns and challenges of students with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) at the college level, and there is no existing study on the peers’ perspectives so far. Transitioning from high school into college is difficult for all students, and it is even more difficult for students with autism. Often, students with autism find that they are not aware of or prepared for the differences between secondary and post-secondary school. Given that the prevalence of autism is increasing at a dramatic rate, 1 in 56 (the Centers for Disease Control, 2013), it is critically important to investigate the current status of college students with autism and what they need to be successful in college.

This presentation will provide data evidence for the potential peer training from a descriptive and correlational research investigation via a survey instrument among 300 college students. It will explore the residence life of college students with autism from their peers’ point of view, investigate the training needs for peers to help students with autism gain a better residence experience in college, and discuss effective ways colleges can use to foster peers’ support for students with ASD. The presenters will provide hands-on activities, interactive questions and answers, and opportunities for discussion to enhance the participants’ self-awareness and understanding of diversity and inclusion.

Journey to Wholeness: Voices of Women LIVING With Disability

Linda Snell, The College at Brockport
Lauren J. Lieberman, The College at Brockport
Luz M. Cruz, The College at Brockport

Seymour College Union, Rm 119

2:00 PM - 3:15 PM

The presenters asked 13 women living with a variety of disabilities to write about their experiences. A number of themes emerged from the examination of the women’s stories. Perhaps the most unexpected theme was that many of the stories focused on the positive ways their disability affected their lives. To report just a few of the positive concepts noted in the stories: women mentioned lessons learned in regards to “not taking things for granted,” “development of perseverance, determination, and how to solve problems,” “my disability pushed me to advocate, aspire, and excel,” and “my injury has shaped me into the person I am today.”

Another theme centered on what the women can do. Multiple authors noted that their disability does not define them. Many women noted the goals they have set in a number of areas such as physical fitness, spiritual growth, and helping others with a disability. Many are still working and/or active in organizations to promote the health and well-being of other persons struggling with a disability. Still another positive theme related to the support of their family, friends, and others suffering from a disability.

Themes also emerged about the “setbacks, challenges, and frustrations” in living with a disability. One of the most persistent frustrations for the women involved their interactions with medical expenses, health care providers and the health care system.

These stories will challenge individuals and society to address the pervasive issues that so often negatively impact women living with disabilities.

Pink Transgressions: Black Girl and the Intra-feminist Politics of Place

Lucienne Nicholson, The College at Brockport, State University of New York
Barbara LeSavoy, The College at Brockport

Edwards Hall, Room 106

2:00 PM - 3:15 PM

Through film screening/talkback, this session addresses the phrase “Pink Transgressions”, as any oppression of one woman over another, with a particular focus on domestics, examining the impact of race/class/ gender and transnationalism using a Black feminist perspective. The session includes a screening of the film “Black Girl” by Sembene (1966). The main character in the film, Diouana, is a young Senegalese woman who was duped into leaving her country to take a job working as a nanny to a French couple’s three rambunctious young children. Upon her arrival to France, Diouana is enslaved. She is caged in the apartment in Antibes in the South of France; her only freedom is furtive glances of the distant shores of the Mediterranean; her next area of seeming freedom was in the courtyard and only when she is attending to Madame’s children. Sembene’s (1966) film is short in length but deep in meaning; it is a lesson in intersectionalities of place and serves as an extraction of domestic labor and its gender and class-based oppressions.

The Diversity Melting Pot of Marriage Equality in New York

Evelyn Bailey
Ralph Carter
Dan Sapper

Edwards Hall, Room 103

2:00 PM - 3:15 PM

Rochester, NY has always been at the forefront of social change and justice. Upstate New York has been a strong voice in the abolitionist movement, the civil rights movement, and the women’s liberation movement. This workshop will focus on the roots of activism and diversity past and current in the social, cultural, corporate, educational, religious and political arenas of Upstate NY to bring about the critical mass necessary for Marriage Equality to pass on June 28, 2011. The Upstate New York Region provided the fertile ground from which liberation movements have germinated, grown and thrived. The legacy of Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglas laid the foundation for Rochester corporations — Eastman Kodak, IBM, Xerox and a non-public holding Bausch & Lomb — to secure equal rights in employment, housing, health care, domestic partnership benefits, prior to Marriage Equality. The business community led the way, and the legislative agenda followed. The partnerships of very diverse communities created the environment for passage. The history of these partnerships are rooted in the core values of faith, freedom, individualism and the common good that are the guiding force behind Rochester and Upstate NYs achievements to improve the quality of life for all of its citizens. Rochester is the melting pot of diverse cultures, educational institutions, social reform movements, religious expression and political activism. This workshop will explore how the roots of these diverse strains became united in the quest for equality and justice in New York.

“The Laramie Project” — A Staged Reading

Ruth Childs, The College at Brockport
Davida Bloom, The College at Brockport

Liberal Arts Building, McCue Auditorium (Rm 104 A/B)

2:00 PM - 3:15 PM

Davida Bloom and Ruth Childs will direct this staged reading of “The Laramie Project”, with an ensemble of students and faculty performing multiple roles. The presenters want to use this story to introduce or re-introduce the campus community to Matthew Shepard's story, as well as the theatrical style of docudrama which is often used in plays grappling with political and/or contemporary issues. They also see this session as a tool for social change and building bridges. Ms. Childs directed a production of “The Laramie Project” here at Brockport over 10 years ago, and it was a production that brought people together across the campus. That production was supported by a full schedule of talk backs and community events highlighting the issues raised in the play. The hope is that some of that can happen on a smaller scale with this staged reading. The play is still relevant, still heart-breaking, and still powerful. They are excited to share this groundbreaking work with a new generation of students.

“The Muslims I Know” (Film Screening and Discussion)

Mara Ahmed

Seymour College Union, Rm 220 (2nd floor)

2:00 PM - 3:15 PM

The need to identify “militant jihadists” by distinguishing them from moderate Muslims has cast suspicion on all Muslims in America. Stereotypes are becoming well entrenched. The purpose of the documentary, “The Muslims I Know,” is to break those stereotypes by showcasing Pakistani Americans and asking them questions non-Muslim Americans have framed through vox pop interviews. This film includes an interview with Associate Professor Carl Davila, PhD, from the Department of History at The College at Brockport. A brief discussion will follow the screening of this film.

3:30 PM

Being Respectful to Gender Variant Identities

Lucky Summer Light, The College at Brockport

Seymour College Union, Rm 119

3:30 PM - 4:45 PM

Human existence is a wonderful aspect of life. There are multiple stories within the world that are still unknown. Identities come from a person’s history, culture, race, ethnic/cultural background. This workshop will bring to light the dark haze that LGBTQ are severally "different" because they do not fit into the heteronormative society of "being straight and normal." Instead, someone who identifies within the LGBTQ community will be seen as a human being that has a rich story to tell and contains other identities that define them. Identifying within the LGBTQ is not the focal point of any person's existence.

Bigger than Me… A Beautiful Exchange

Daniel Hopkins, The College at Brockport

Edwards Hall, Room 103

3:30 PM - 4:45 PM

This workshop will be the catalyst for Pose 2’s upcoming book, “Bigger Than Me.” During this workshop students will take responsibility for gathering poetic interviews and photographs, creating stories of incidents and events that serve as memorable quotes or moments during the creation of our mural on campus. The goal of this workshop is to create dialogue about the information exchanged, inspiration and growth shared between Pose, his students and the campus at large. “Bigger Than Me” aims to uncover the diverse nuances of the creative process through the usage of social media, while highlighting the collective spirit of collaboration.

Developmental Disabilities: Labels and Beyond

Marcie N. Desrochers, The College at Brockport
Ann Giralico-Pearlman, The College at Brockport

Edwards Hall, Room 101

3:30 PM - 4:45 PM

The presenters will delve into the nuances of labels given to individuals with developmental disABILITIES such as intellectual disabilities and autism. In this workshop participants will be exposed to research, stories, videos, and interactive activities to explore how labels can impact people in significant ways.

Embracing LGBTQ Audiences in Corporate Communication: A Media Literacy Discussion

Justin Walden, The College at Brockport
Amy Prutsman, The College at Brockport

Seymour College Union, Gallery

3:30 PM - 4:45 PM

Inclusivity has been an increasingly important aspect of marketing and public relations in recent years, especially when it comes to the LGBTQ community. Including this group as a potential target for business communications is not only a smart decision for sales and growth but is also a matter of ethical business operation. Thus, there are normative and financial pressures to embrace inclusivity with LGBTQ and other diverse audiences. This interactive presentation will offer insight into companies who have embraced this community in their marketing and public relations efforts either successfully or unsuccessfully. The presenters will provide evidence of how acting unethically or having complete disregard for this community can have detrimental consequences for some of the world’s largest companies. This presentation is held in light of major changes to our media landscape. Social media has helped companies find new ways of telling compelling stories and engage in two-way communication with targeted audiences. However, this technology has also fueled a worrisome series of ethical missteps and lapses in judgment. Our discussion will conclude with a balanced exploration of the positives and negatives that come when organizations attempt to use social media for LGBTQ-focused communication. The presentation team consists of a Brockport public relations professor, and a Brockport student whose senior honors thesis explores this topic.

Partnering to Provide Comprehensive Care for LGBTQ-Identified Students

Cheryl Van Lare, The College at Brockport
Lynne Maier, The College at Brockport

Seymour College Union, Rm 220 (2nd floor)

3:30 PM - 4:45 PM

Join staff from the Hazen Center for Integrated Care at The College at Brockport and community partner Trillium Health in discussing access to services and serving members of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer Community (LGBTQ).

Respecting Differences: Religion (Panel Discussion)

John Benicasco, The College at Brockport
Jeffrey Snarr, The College at Brockport
Margot Van Etten
Rabbi Amy Sapowith

Seymour College Union, Ballroom West

3:30 PM - 4:45 PM

Religious (or non-religious) beliefs can be a crucial part of one’s identify and, as a result, can be the cause of various forms of conflict. Conversations around respecting various religious (or non-religious) beliefs are a crucial way to help dissolve these conflicts. This panel discussion brings individuals from various religious (and non-religious) beliefs together to discuss the importance of respecting differences around religion and ways that Brockport can help foster respect and tolerance for other’s religious (or non-religious) beliefs.

6:30 PM


Yashodhara Maitra

Seymour College Union, Ballroom

6:30 PM - 8:30 PM

"Jagadamba” is the story of Mahatma Gandhi through his wife, Kasturba’s, eyes. Kasturba Gandhi is a simple woman, with no formal education, raised with traditional Hindu values. Married to an extraordinary man, she is thrown into circumstances far beyond her expectation and becomes a source of inspiration and comfort to him. Learn more about the historical background for the play.

Free and open to the public.