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September 19, 2023

Sessions at Black Issues Conference teach self-growth


Grad Students in the College of Student Personell, Erika Orman talks about the origins of N!&%@? during the session “What’s Up My N!&%@?.”

Students filled Olscamp 101 early Saturday morning to learn more about issues within the black community.

The 15th Annual Black Issues Conference took place this past Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Sheila Brown, co-chair of the conference and associate director of the Office of Multicultural Affairs, was happy about how many students were at the event.

“I feel great about the turnout this year,” Brown said. “The past couple of years, we’ve had inclement weather and students were more willing to brave the elements [this year].”

Some students were attending the event for the first time. Senior Turea Moore attended the conference not knowing what to expect.

“My favorite part of the conference was the sessions,” Moore said. “Even though it may sound cliché, they really covered things that are real issues today.”

Other students have previously attended the conference and like the changes that have been made.

“The one last year was based more so on leadership,” senior Jamal Jackson said. ”This one is more about building yourself and growing as a community.”

The conference included different sessions surrounding discussions attendees could participate in. Jeff Jackson, assistant vice president for Enrollment and Management, director at the Career Center and also co-chair of the conference, lead the session, “Bringing the Hood to Campus.”

“A lot of these kids are first-generation college students,” Jeff said. “The session is about letting them know ‘you can stand on my shoulders;’ it’s all about them being successful.”

The goal of the sessions were to promote interaction between session leaders and other attendees, while encouraging students to step outside of their comfort zone, Brown said.

“I was happy with the engagement during the sessions,” Jeff said. “I was happy that a lot of upperclassmen were providing advice to freshmen, and that the freshmen even expressed disappointment that there weren’t more of them there.”

The conference was highly student-centered. Many of the sessions were student-produced and the Student Planning Committee played a large role in putting the event together and making sure it ran smoothly.

“I just want to give kudos to the student planning committee,” Brown said. “I know I’m co-chair, but they put so much work into this I don’t know how we would have done it without them.”

Senator Nina Turner was one of the keynote speakers at the event, as well as Paul James, director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at Duke University.

Awards were presented to Jack Taylor, the first director of Multicultural Affairs at the University, as well as two students and one organization. Three students also won gift cards to the University’s bookstore.

The positive reactions from the students, and the questions that she received about getting involved in next year’s conference reassured Brown that the event served its purpose.

“Those who were here learned something new, were challenged and took away valuable information about themselves,” Brown said.

Jeff believes the conference taught students a valuable lesson.

“This world takes no prisoners,” Jeff said. “If you put nothing into it, you won’t get anything out of it.”

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