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Diversity director requests funding for conference

Alicia Vega

Jose Guadalupe Conchas, diversity director for the Associated Students of the University of Arizona, requests funding for nine UA students to attend the Oregon Students of Color Coalition conference in Eugene, Ore., at the weekly ASUA Senate meeting in the Student Union Memorial Center on Wednesday. The conference focuses on diversity and inclusion issues.

Jose Guadalupe Conchas, ASUA’s diversity director, requested to send nine UA students to the Oregon Students of Color Coalition conference in Eugene, Ore., at the ASUA Senate meeting on Wednesday.

Conchas requested $2,666 for the nine students to attend the conference.

The Oregon Students of Color Coalition conference will be held from Nov. 14 through Nov. 16 at Lane Community College. According to the Oregon Student Association, the OSCC conference is for students from across the Northwest to “come to gain skills necessary for successful grassroots organizing, to learn about issues affecting their communities and [to be empowered] to take action.”

Conchas said he is worried the UA is not properly trained to handle diversity and said having representatives from the Associated Students of the University of Arizona attend the OSCC conference would help solve inclusion issues.

“It is my concern that no one in the ASUA, including the Office of Inclusion, has any social justice training or guidance on how to lead an effective, accessible and inclusive organization,” Conchas said.

Conchas said there isn’t a program to train student leaders to be inclusive or to make students count, and that ASUA needs to “take that broad initiative all together.”

Conchas said he hopes that after attending the conference in Oregon, the UA will be able to host a similar one in the spring of 2015. The conference would be called the Arizona Student Diversity & Inclusion Conference.

“We want to bring a conference where students can come together from across the state but also within U of A and talk about important issues,” Conchas said.

According to Conchas, there are no other conferences like this in the state of Arizona.

“We can’t just have an office in ASUA and say, ‘We’re going to be diverse,’” Conchas said. “There needs to be engagement, there needs to be advocacy and there needs to be action plans. I’m working to better the student body and better the representation within our organization and within ASUA as a whole.”

Conchas said to ASUA senators that attendance at the OSCC conference would be beneficial for the Office of Diversity & Inclusion when it comes to preparing to host the conference at the UA in the spring.

“In order to have a successful conference, we want to make sure we’re prepared,” Conchas said. “This is the training that I want my student organizers and ASUA student organizers and ASUA students to have in order to be well managed.”

Issac Ortega, ASUA president, urged the members of the ASUA senate to seriously consider funding the Office of Diversity & Inclusion attendance at the conference in Oregon. He also said he is appreciative of the work Conchas has done for the program.

Ortega said Conchas works with eight other people in the offices in the cultural center almost daily to engage students and receive feedback on the UA’s diversity programs.

“This Arizona Color conference thing that he’s trying to start here would be the first of its kind, and I think that it’d be very prestigious and something very special for the state of Arizona as far as higher education, diversity included, goes,” Ortega said.


Follow Brandi Walker on Twitter.

Editor’s Note:

The headline for this story originally said, “ASUA Senate funds trip to diversity conference,” which is incorrect. The new headline is correct.

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