University hosts conference to address statewide issues of diversity, equity


State of the State

Amirah Adams and Amirah Adams

About 260 people filled the Union Ballroom Thursday to attend 18th annual State of the State Conference.

The event featured people from a wide variety of professions from around the state, all meeting to discuss issues of equity, diversity and opportunity, and how it relates to Ohio.

Ray Plaza, associate director in the Office of Multicultural Affairs, was on the planning committee for the conference as registration chair, which began planning for the event after last year’s conference.

“The actual planning started in the summer,” Plaza said. “We began doling out who was interested in what aspect and began laying out the timeline for the event.”

The conference consisted of 18 sessions, each one centered on different aspects of diversity.

“We’ve been able to broaden the sessions we have and hit a number of different topics,” Plaza said. “We cover issues impacting different communities, which is exemplified in the speakers we have today.”

Matt Roloff and Baldemar Velasquez were the keynote speakers during the conference. Roloff is best known for his role on TLC’s “Little People Big World.” Velasquez is co-founder and president of the Farm Labor Organizing Committee. Both speakers covered the theme of building inclusive communities.

“Both gave presentations that were right to the heart,” said Emily Monago, Bowling Green Conference Chair. “Both had global messages of how to build inclusive communities and how we can build bridges and come together.”

Some attendees, such as Roger Grant, assistant director of Student Support Services at the University, were attending the conference for the first time.

“I work in TRIO programs, which is housed next to the Office of Multicultural Affairs,” Grant said. “I had an interest in seeing how the State of the State Conference addresses issues and concerns of the diverse populations on campus.”

It can be difficult to cover every aspect of diversity and its importance. Grant was impressed with how many issues were discussed and the information that was given during the conference.

“I think the conference is doing a good job of informing people of how to be more tolerant of people of diverse backgrounds and experiences,” Grant said.

The crowd was filled with people of many different backgrounds and ethnicities. There were also a wide range of ages in attendance as well.

It was mentioned throughout the conference how there was a significant number of young people that were in attendance. Grant wanted them to take away one thing specifically.

“I want them to recognize some of the civil rights activities and how they have made these opportunities available to students,” Grant said.

Monago was pleased with the success of the conference, as well as the participation from the attendees.

“The overall turnout was fantastic,” Monago said. “Our students were really participating, I’m really happy about it.”