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Diversity Summit

The SUNY Geneseo Diversity Summit is a full day of diversity-focused sessions hosted by members of the campus community, with a keynote address by UPstander Dr. Omékongo Dibinga, motivational speaker, trilingual poet, TV talk show host, rapper, and professor of cross-cultural communication at American University.

Summit Overview

Date: Monday, March 2, 2020 
Theme: "Building an Inclusive Community through Support, Allyhood, and Activism”


Concurrent Sessions: 9:30 a.m. - 2:20 p.m. (various locations)
Keynote: 2:30 p.m. - 3:45 p.m. (College Union Ballroom)
Concurrent Sessions: 4 p.m. - 5 p.m. (various locations)


Title: Finding Common Ground In Uncommon Times

Speaker: UPstander Dr. Omékongo Dibinga

The purpose of this keynote is for participants to explore what unites them as opposed to what divides them. We live in a society that is becoming increasingly polarized but even in our darkest moments, there are areas where we can all shine.

Participants will learn how to have difficult conversations, how to challenge implicit biases, and how to build a community where differences are not just tolerated but celebrated!

This year’s Diversity Summit is organized by the President’s Commission on Diversity and Community, Student Association, Student Senate, and the Office of Diversity and Equity.

Quick Facts

  • Monday, March 2, 2020
  • Free and open to the public
  • 25 Sessions Offered
  • Keynote by Dr. Omékongo Dibinga

Omékongo Dibinga

Dr. Omékongo Dibinga

Questions can be directed to robbie routenberg (

Diversity Summit Schedule

9:30-11:00 AM: Finding Common Ground In Uncommon Times

Presenter: Dr. Omékongo Dibinga

Description: Engage in further dialogue with our Keynote Speaker, in this breakout session happening before his Keynote Address.

Location: College Union 135 Hunt Room

9:30-10:45 AM: Teacher Candidates Application of Diversity and Inclusion in Public Education 

Presenters: Thea Yurkewecz and Crystal Simmons; Student Panelists: Amy Forrest Maria Ruiz Luna Taya Coniglio Leslie Mast Emmy Lundquist Ryland Frost Jaylen Martinez.

Description: Teacher candidates from the elementary and adolescent education programs in School of Education will serve on a panel to reflect on the importance of diversity and inclusion.  This panel features a question/answer session facilitated by Dr. Crystal Simmons and Dr. Thea Yurkewecz. Students will identify how they apply course content in their planning and design of lessons that integrate multicultural perspectives and identities in the classroom.  

Location: College Union Gold Room 114

9:30-10:20 AM: The Intersections of Mental Health and Social Identity

Presenter: Julia Deacon

Description: Rooted in empirical findings, this session will address how social identities we inhabit and our mental health interact. Participants will be able to interactively begin to understand how their own social identities (ie: their race, sexuality, ability, and gender) are currently affecting their mental health. Participants should walk away with a better understanding of their own identities and wellbeing, as well as being able to identify areas of support they can access.

Location: College Union 322/323

9:45-10:30 AM: How to Be an Activist

Presenter: Kelsey Dux

Description: Understanding how to be an effective activist is crucial in being a good ally and agent of change. Within this program, we will discuss the various avenues in which one can achieve change, the different types of change, and how our identities empower us as activists. Join us to share your perspective on activism and start your plan of action.

Location: Knight Spot

10:20-11:10 AM: Microaggressions in Everyday Life

Presenter: Trillium Health (Andre Dixon)

Description: Microaggressions are all around us. People who perpetuate them may never know that they’re doing it until they are given that awareness. It can be pretty eye-opening for folks to look deep and realize how they contribute to bias without even knowing it, but when you’re aware of microaggressions you can stop them. Let's pick apart and understand a piece of these issues we see on a daily basis.

Location: College Union 355 Fireside

10:30-11:00 AM: Using Images that Reflect an Inclusive Student Population

Presenter: Alexis Clifton

Description: Visual representations are important; what images are included to represent a college community in our presentations, course materials, and other campus documents can convey a lot to viewers. This session will explore opportunities for broadening our use of images depicting under-represented groups. Even changing out one icon on a slide deck can have a dramatic impact on inclusivity.   New collections of images with a diversity/equity/inclusiveness focus, such as The Gender Spectrum Collection and the Redefining Women Icon Collection, allow us a good starting point to broaden our visual offerings. We will explore existing resources, identify opportunities to use these visuals, and talk about opportunities to create and share additional inclusive images with the world. 

Location: College Union 322/323

11 AM-12:30 PM: Black & Queer: Understanding Out Culture, Contributions, and Struggles 

Presenter: Eunisha Tucker

Description: Due to the idea that "normal" means being white, cisgender, and heterosexual, Black individuals and LGBTQIA+ folx are unable to exist without experiencing discrimination and dehumanization. What if you're both Black and LGBTQIA+, though? In this workshop, Eunisha will talk about the issues Black, LGBTQIA+ individuals face, and the culture and contributions of this marginalized community. To finish off, there will be a game of jeopardy that educates participants on Black, LGBTQIA+ individuals, and allies, past and current.

Location: College Union Gold Room 114

11:00 AM-12:00 PM: White Male Allyship and Our Place in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Presenter: Garth Freeman

Description: This workshop will provide a space where white men can speak about their lived experience as it relates to being allies. Being an active, white, male ally entails mindful self-reflection and a reimagining of how our privilege can be utilized while breaking from traditional roles of dominance, power, and influence. This workshop will allow participants to discuss how they intersect with this important work, how and when their voice can and should be used, and how they can respectfully and earnestly work towards the collective goals of a more equitable society and culture.  

Location: Knight Spot

11:10 AM-12:00 PM: Indispensable Participation: LIVES and Literary Disability Studies Collaborations

Presenters: Gillian Paku & student panelists: Claire Corbeaux, Melisha Gatlin, Alexis Herman, Christina Luongo, Laura Newton, Brianna Riggio.

Description: “We act politically by sharing a meal—when doing so makes others uncomfortable or challenges what is deemed fit for public space. We act politically when we throw our bodies in dance—when dominant norms insist that our bodies are best hidden […]. We act politically when we open our classrooms to students with intellectual disabilities—as we find ways to practice alliance in academia” (Stacy Clifford Simplican). Our panel of students from English literature classes and Geneseo’s LIVES program aims to highlight a range of empowering, mutual experiences happening on, around, and beyond campus.  

Location: College Union 322/323

11:30 AM-12:30 PM: I'm Black: Imposter Syndrome at PWI's

Presenters: Kareem Hayes and Antonio Williams

Description: This interactive workshop will equip individuals with the knowledge and understanding of how to combat Imposter Syndrome (IS) on predominantly white campuses. Discussions will focus on experiences both personal and professional with IS. Historically, African Americans have experienced some form of IS. Statistically, the transition from high school to college is still challenging due to students experiencing a lack of a sense of belonging and trust from peers, professors and school administration. Participants will engage in group discussions along with the movie, “Higher Learning '' as the backdrop of the discussion. Dialog will be centered on student retention and increasing graduation rates through understanding best practices to support student development and academic achievement.

Target Audience: Faculty and Staff

Location: College Union 355 Fireside

12:20 PM- 1:10 PM: Classroom Conversations: Leaning into Difficult Dialogues

Presenters: Sim Covington and Mary Bonderoff

Description: The goal of this session is to engage in a discussion about difficult conversations in the classroom. We will share experiences, expertise of the group to allow faculty to develop a tool kit of resources. Navigating unexpected conflicts in the classroom can be difficult-being prepared for those situations is critical for our students.

Target Audience: Faculty

Location: College Union 322/323

12:00 PM-1:00 PM: Advancing Cultural Competency Certificate Program

Presenter: ACCC

Description: Have you been hearing about the new Advancing Cultural Competency Certificate Program and wondered what it was all about? Maybe you've heard someone reference their experience in "A - Triple C" and wanted to know more? Come join us for a conversation about this new program, how it came to be, and the transformative impact it is already starting to have on campus.

Location: Knight Spot

12:00 PM-1:00 PM: Beyond the Ashkenorm: Immigration and Diversity in Jewish Community

Presenter: Hillel at Geneseo

Description: Participants will challenge their worldview about what they think of when they hear the word “Jew” through a combination of case studies and discussion with members of the Geneseo Hillel. There will be an exploration of Jewish identities through the view of immigration and Jewish diaspora.

Location: MOSAIC

12:30-1:30 PM: Words Matter: Language Choice and Mental Health Stigma 

Presenter: Laura Swanson

Description: This session will explore how the language we use can impact those around us. We will talk about the power of word choice and why precision of language matters on a micro and macro level. We will examine common phrases that perpetuate stigma, discuss the impacts of that stigma, and reflect on how to express ourselves in ways that reflect a commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Location: College Union 135 Hunt Room

1:00-2:00 PM: Say What? Reflecting on Microaggressions

Presenters: Teddy Gyamfi, Alessandra Otero, Brandon West

Description: The purpose of this workshop will provide a discussion on how individuals deal and handle comments, remarks, suggestions, opinions, and views of using to minimize others. A microaggression is a brief and commonplace daily verbal, behavioral, and environmental indignity, whether intentional or unintentional, that communicates hostile, derogatory, or negative racial, gender, sexual orientation, and religious slights and insults to the target person or group (Wing Sue, 2019). This approach of communicating among two or more parties can be hurtful. The presenters will briefly describe the term "Microaggression" to provide participants a general understanding of the concept and contextualize the discussions to follow. The workshop activities involve reenacting tweets and real-life scenarios to show how microaggressions can be orchestrated. Each scenario will proceed with a discussion based on a series of questions. Disclaimer: This workshop is not intended to hurt or belittle any of the participants, as a series of scenarios will be reacted amongst the participants and host.

Location: College Union 355 Fireside

1 PM-2:15 PM: Is Sustainability Only for the Privileged?

Presenters: Karleen West, Dan DeZarn, Meg Reitz.

Description: Meeting our climate goals (both locally and globally) depends upon our ability to explore the social justice pillar of sustainability by looking at the history of sustainability in underrepresented communities. In this workshop, we'll examine how social justice frameworks help us better understand sustainability. Further, we will consider how fostering sustainability inevitably also advances social justice. Through interactive exercises and conversations and focusing on the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, we will explore how to weave social justice and sustainability more thoroughly into all of our work, advocating for meaningful change for all people.

Location: MOSAIC

1:15-2:20 PM: Identity: The Path to Cultivating Inclusivity

Presenters: Alana Martin, Ousmane Sam, Naomi Seid.

Description: Participants will engage in two activities that explore their social identities. This interactive session will include small group discussions and exchanges that aim to define social identities. This workshop will also explore how social identities interact with and influence systems that challenge inclusive communities. There will be an identity exploring ice breaker and then the Drawbridge activity which will explore how identities function in systems.

Location: College Union 114 Gold Room

1:30-2:00 PM: Planting Seeds of Inclusion and Education in our Community TOGETHER

Presenter: Shannon Curley

Description: This presentation will show how programs like TOGETHER are effective in tackling and empowering college students in their understanding, connectedness, and integration of communities different from their own. To do so, it will utilize approaches and results from students who, over the past three years, have worked on our campus with non-English speaking families of farm-workers from different Latin-American countries and Puerto Rico residing in Livingston County in New York. Next, current United Nations goals, European Union policy, and theories from education professors will be used to demonstrate how TOGETHER is connected to global discussions about educational change and inclusion. Finally, the paper will include testimonies from tutors to show the impact that TOGETHER has had on Geneseo students. Labeled as a win-win program, TOGETHER shows how, in a short time, inclusive learning tactics can foster cross-cultural connections and enhance the meaning of community.

Location: College Union 322/323

1:30-2:20 PM: Ally: Noun vs. Verb

Presenter: Jada Atwood and Emma Lynch

Description: Being an ally can be a complicated idea, as many times we don’t know where to start. This Wokeshop will explain what it means to be an ally, outlining the difference of ally as a noun vs. verb. Furthermore, this wokeshop will raise more self-awareness of one’s own privilege and the role of privilege in allyhood as well as the ways that anyone can become and act as an ally to marginalized communities.

Location: Knight Spot

2:30- 3:45 PM: Finding Common Ground In Uncommon Times (Keynote Speaker Address)

Presenter: Dr. Omékongo Dibinga

Description: The purpose of this keynote is for participants to explore what unites them as opposed to what divides them. We live in a society that is becoming increasingly polarized but even in our darkest moments, there are areas where we can all shine. Participants will learn how to have difficult conversations, how to challenge implicit biases, and how to build a community where differences are not just tolerated but celebrated!

Location: College Union Ballroom

4:00-5:00 PM: Building Inclusive Programming on Your Campus

Presenter: Stephanie Paredes

Description: In this interactive workshop, we will explore how to collaboratively work with academic and administrative units to provide a holistic range of programmatic efforts that support education and ensure a welcoming, inclusive, vibrant and accessible environment for everyone.

Location: MOSAIC

4:00-5:00 PM: State of the Community: Immigration Policies and Their Powerful Impact

Presenter: Student Coalition for Migrant Workers, Alianza Agrícola

Description: This panel will feature accounts from members of Alianza Agrícola, a local im/migrant farmworker organization that is focused on advocating for immigrant rights in New York State, as well as immigration policy research presented by SUNY Geneseo’s Student Coalition for Migrant Workers. Each panelist will share some of their background and how immigration policies affect them and their communities. Attendees will learn about the history and the important role of local im/migrant farmworkers in our community, the evolution of our immigration policies, and the effects of current legislation on immigrants and the entire country. Panelists will also educate attendees on the positive impact of the new N.Y. legislations: the “Driver's License Access and Privacy Act” and the “Farm Laborers Fair Labor Practices Act”. Attendees will leave this session with a better understanding of immigration issues in the U.S. and a way to get involved in their own communities through advocating for im/migrant rights and supporting their essential role in our communities.

Location: Gold Room 114

4:00-4:30 PM: Helping First-Generation College Students Understand Why and How to Pursue a PhD

Presenter: Kate Torrey

Description: For most first-generation college students, a Ph.D. feels out of reach. This session examines tools used at RIT to increase the number of first-generation undergraduate students pursuing Ph.D. programs. These tools include a “PhD Exploration” program, which utilizes faculty mentors for lab tours, workshops, and research experiences; a “Roadmap to Graduate School,” which provides a timeline of tasks to help students be competitive graduate school candidates; and a “Pathways to Graduate School” class to help students write fellowship and grad school applications.

Target Audience: Staff, Faculty, Administration

Location: Knight Spot

4:00-5:00 PM: Celebrating Diverse Abilities at Geneseo

Presenters: Dr. Amy Fisk, Morgan Hernandez, Grace McMahon and Annika Mounts

Description: The workshop will begin with a discussion of disability advocacy and the recent shift toward viewing disability through a social justice lens. Student Accessibility Advocates will discuss their own experiences as diverse individuals on a college campus, and help identify ways that students, faculty and staff may serve as key allies for access and inclusion across the Geneseo campus.

Location: College Union 322/323

4:00-5:00 PM: SA: Building an Inclusive Network for the Student Body and Administration

Presenters: Student Association

Description: The Student Association (SA) is a multifaceted organization that works to advance undergraduate academic and co-curricular life through programming, allocation of funds, as well as advocacy efforts on behalf of students. As a major liaison between students and administration, SA strives to inform, engage, and connect all students with Geneseo affairs and resources. This session introduces the active network among student organizations, administration, and the student population as a whole while discussing how SA can increase visibility of advocacy efforts within that network. Additionally, it opens a conversation as to how SA can better facilitate opportunities for connections between students and a diverse network of on and off campus professionals. Lastly, this is also an opportunity for people to share take-aways with each other and learn about sessions for those who were unable to attend.

Target Audience: Students, Administration, Non-College-Affiliated Individuals, Staff

Location: SA Office/College Union 316