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Black Lives Matter Conference

April 25, 2016

SIUE’s “Black Lives Matter Reloaded – A Community Dialogue on Microaggressions” drew approximately 200 SIUE students, staff, faculty and other community members Monday, April 25, to the Morris University Center Conference Center. The SIUE Office of Institutional Diversity and Inclusion presented the event.

“The conference was an opportunity for open campus community dialogue,” said Venessa Brown, associate chancellor in the SIUE Office of Institutional Diversity and Inclusion. “Students, faculty, staff and community members listened to each other and strategized on how we can eradicate microaggressions at SIUE.”

“I continue to be impressed by SIUE’s institutional leadership to address sensitive issues such as microaggression,” said SIUE Interim Chancellor Stephen Hansen. “When hate and intolerance seem to be in the news daily, it’s important that SIUE serves as a model of inclusion, openness and acceptance for this region.”

Keynote speaker Saba Fatima, PhD and assistant professor of philosophy in SIUE’s College of Arts and Sciences (CAS), presented microaggressions as common verbal, behavioral and environmental indignities, whether intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostile or negative slights to marginalized groups. She pointed out that microaggressive individuals are often unaware that they engage in such acts when they interact with people of color.

Six students told their personal stories of dealing with microaggressions. D Amonti Batton-Jackson, a junior mass communications/black studies major; Mikayla Butler, a freshman biology/medical sciences major; Ramsha Durrani, a sophomore psychology major, LaShaunda Jordan, a junior mass communications/black studies major; Briana Reed, a senior psychology major; and Capri Wroten, a sophomore economics/finance major related their individual experiences.

“Students took advantage of the conference to voice their concerns,” Brown said. “The benefit is they recognize their concerns have been heard and are valued. SIUE once again demonstrated that we live our values.”

Faculty members Bryan Jack, PhD, and Jessica Harris, PhD, both of whom are assistant professors of historical studies in CAS, facilitated the event. Both were involved with the inaugural SIUE Black Lives Matter conference in January 2016.

“Thanks to Venessa Brown and the organizers of the Black Lives Matter Reloaded conference today,” said Denise Cobb, interim provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs. “It is another illustration of the good work occurring at SIUE, and the students’ narratives are indicative of our continued opportunities to improve the campus climate. We have demonstrated a willingness to listen, learn and improve.”

In a similar vein later in the afternoon, the Illinois Education Research Council (IERC) presented Dr. Lemuel Watson, who spoke on “The Role of Higher Education in the Social Context of Addressing Diversity.” Watson is dean of the College of Education at the University of South Carolina and professor in the Department of Educational Leadership and Policies. He is the former dean of the College of Education at Northern Illinois University.

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