URI student-led conference, DIVE RI to focus on diversity, March 4-5

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Oscar and Grammy Award-winning artist Common to deliver keynote

KINGSTON, R.I. — February 22, 2016 — The second annual student-created and led conference will take place at the University of Rhode Island’s Kingston Campus March 4-5, 2016. Called “Diversifying Individuals Via Education” (D.I.V.E. RI), this event is focused on enhancing student leadership and social change on college campuses.

Organized by the group of multicultural student leaders known as MUSIC (Multicultural Unity and Student Involvement Council), D.I.V.E. RI is a conference focused on race and ethnicity in higher education. Last year more than 250 students from URI, Rhode Island College, Johnson & Wales University, and more participated in the two-day event.

The conference was such a success that more students are involved this year.

“The biggest take away from DIVE RI 2015 was the sense of community and collaboration that I felt during the conference,” said Luckson Omoaregba, a communication studies major from Pawtucket, who helped to organize the first conference. “The DIVE RI attendees really made an effort to build bridges and start dialogues with people from different backgrounds and identities. Because of the level of collaboration that occurred at the first conference, we want to challenge our conference attendees to continue working together but also start creating action steps that can lead to positive social changes in higher education and in our communities,” he said.

One of the keynote speakers this year is “Common,” the Oscar and Grammy Award-winning artist, author and “king” of conscious hip hop, and philanthropist. DIVE RI teamed with URI’s Student Entertainment Committee to bring Common to campus to close the conference at 7 p.m. on March 5 with a talk entitled “Greatness.” It will be held at Edwards Hall, 64 Upper College Road.

Students who attended last year’s event were eager to share their experience.

“DIVE RI provided me with a space where I could engage in higher level thinking with students who shared a commitment to social justice,” said Alexia Williams, a junior from Johnston, who is now a part of the speakers and presenters committee for DIVE RI 2016.

“I learned how deep-rooted issues of diversity are across college campuses. I met several students from the Massachusetts and greater Rhode Island areas whose drive for cultural receptiveness was as great as my own. I am most excited for the attendees to experience the expansion of DIVE RI. The team has worked tirelessly to ensure that everyone that attends the conference walks away feeling empowered,” said Williams.

“I’m definitely going to the different workshops this year after hearing about how well it went last year went so I’m excited about that,” said Fatima Paye, a senior from Pawtucket.

Naomi Thompson, associate vice president of Community Equity & Diversity said: “We are very proud of our students for bending and blending conversations on diversity with this event. It has been a wonderful experience for all — students helping students to broaden the understanding and discussions on diversity. This is a birthplace for leadership in diversity and our students are role models for their peers.”

Conference Schedule

With at least a dozen workshops done primarily by students for students, the conference goal is to raise awareness and to inspire student leaders to develop action plans with greater cross-cultural competency.

The conference will open at 6 p.m. on Friday, March 4 with remarks by renowned social scientist and author Tricia Rose in the Doody Auditorium at Swan Hall, 60 Upper College Road. A Brown University professor of Africana Studies, Rose specializes in 20th century African-American culture and politics, social thought, popular culture and gender issues. She has been a CurrentTV contributor and has been featured on MSNBC, CNN, NPR and other national and local media outlets.

Rose is the author of the award winning book Black Noise: Rap Music and Black Culture in Contemporary America (1994) and Longing to Tell: Black Women Talk About Sexuality and Intimacy (2003). She received her undergraduate degree from Yale University and her doctorate in American Studies from Brown University.

The conference will then host a screening of Selma at Edwards Hall from 7-9 p.m. and “Breakfast @ Midnight” and Karaoke will follow from 9:30-11:30 p.m.

On Saturday, March 5, discussions will take place in the Memorial Union focused on numerous issues. Registration opens at 10 a.m. and simultaneous breakout sessions will be held from 11:30 a.m.-4 p.m.

A “World Café Discussion” will follow the sessions at 4 p.m. for all participants to share ideas. The most complete list of sessions and speakers is available at Conference.

In addition to the SEC and the Office of Community Equity & Diversity, the DIVE conference received support from the Women’s Center, URI Honors Program, Housing and Residential Life, Africana Studies, Department of Textiles, Merchandising, and Design, URI Greek Life, Student Senate, Talent Development Student Advisory Council, URI Honors Program, Leadership Department, College of Human Science and Services, College of Business, URI Bookstore, Memorial Union, Office of Student Life, URI Athletics, Banneker Industries and Dunkin Donuts .

For more information about the conference, all of the speakers and related events, please visit online at Conference.


Session 1: 11:30 am – 12:20 pm

  • “Equity Through Inclusion: Increasing the Potential for Minority Success in Majority Settings,” Catalina Martinez
  • “Mercy, Mercy Me Poison is the water that flows: A Call for Environmentalist in Urban America,” Norman Barber
  • “Talking to the White Wall,” David B Hayes
  • “Femeconomics Applied to Race and Ethnicity,” Zulmy Cortez
  • “The Impact and Importance of Cultural Equity in the 21st Century,” Raymond Watson, Dwayne Keys
  • “The Invisible Minority,” Tiffany Chheuy
  • “Hairs Some Knowledge: Understanding Hair and the Societal Perspective,” Cassie Jacob
  • “Creating Multicultural Change On Campus,” Tom Balestracci, Michelle Rosa

Session 2: 12:30 pm – 1:20 pm

  • “Sister Circle: Creating space for our stories” Melizza Camba-Kelsay, Athina Chartelain, Margarida R. Da Graça, Lizzy Gomez, Melisa Jaquez, Tyrene Jones, Michelle Rosa and Anna Takahama
  • “Created Equal: How Class Matters in Our Lives,” Shane Lloyd
  • “Best of Both Worlds: Problems Facing Second Generation Americans” Kyle Delgado
  • “One Dot at a Time: Inspiring a Culture of Nonviolence on your Campus” Erin Albanese, Lindsay Costa, Rachel Dunham
  • “Major Key to Success: The Role of Multicultural Organizations in Student Success” Nnemdi Azubuko
  • “Entrepreneurship: An opportunity to reduce the wealth gap between races,” Carmen Diaz-Jusino
  • “Who Am I?: Staying True to Yourself While Living as a Black Girl in a White World,” Sterling Clinton Spellman and Elkinsette Clinton
  • “I am not just a body, but a somebody: Rectifying the sinister connection of slavery and universities, through reparations,” Oluwadamilola Animashaun

Session 3: 3:10 pm-3:50 pm

  • “Social Justice with People from Privileged Groups: Activites, Facilitation Techniques, and Tips to Overcoming Resistance,” Victoria Kern
  • “Unrapable: Racism, Hyper sexualization, and Sexual Assault in Black Communities,” Nwando Ofokans
  • “Landing the Perfect Job While Keeping it Real,” Naomi Thompson J.D., Fernando Guzman Ph.D,
  • “Intent, Impact, Language, #Inclusivity,” Joel Pettigrew
  • “What Kind of Art is This?,” Harrison ‘Jon Hope’ Grigsby M. Ed,
  • “Black Male Privilege in the Era of Police Brutality,” Ganiatu Afolabi
  • “Nonviolence and Self Identity, Bridge of inclusion,” Michael Bonilla

Organizers: The collaborative team of students who planned DIVE RI

  • Speakers & Presenters- Luckson Omoaregba (chair) of Pawtucket, with Connor Curtis of Bolton, Mass., and Alexia Williams of Johnston.
  • Logistics: Zulmy Cortez (chair), Kristy Berdugo, and Tiffany Chheuy, of Providence with Romanuel Percy of Pawtucket, and Emely Baez of Woonsocket.
  • Finance: Dayo Akinjisola (chair) of Providence with Edwin Sam and Jeremey Pereira of East Providence, Luis Aldrete of Beaumont, Texas, Enma Cabrera of Johnston, and Shiana Ashworth and Marlin DaCruz of Pawtucket.
  • Events and Programs: Shiana Ashworth (chair) of Pawtucket, with Anarosa Madera of Providence, and Janelle Timmons of East Lyme, Conn.
  • PR/Marketing: Omose Ogala (chair) of White Plains , N.Y., with Tobi Raji and Ryan Gomes of Pawtucket, and Regina Sarpong, LaDasia Hie, Brianna Vega, Beatrice Mondestil all of Providence, RI.