Defenders of democracy, “drum majors for justice” and advocates of the celebration for diversity were the main topics discussed and expressed among approximately 30 students and faculty at the U.N.I.T.E.D. Summit Wednesday night in the Marshall Center. The U.N.I.T.E.D. Summit was one event that Student Government had during its weeklong SG Week.
Main speakers for the night were Elliot Mincberg, a lawyer and vice president of the People for the American Way, and facilitator Sharon Pacheco, state director for the program Arrive with Five. With the low attendance, both speakers stressed the issues of coming together and celebrating diversity with others.
Mincberg told the students that in order to become defenders of democracy they should do a few things.
“Become really good students. Learn the skills you need to change an issue,” Mincberg said. “Go off campus and get involved with the community and make it into a better place. Finally, work here on campus to become ambassadors of this program. Work together to celebrate diversity.”
U.N.I.T.E.D. Summit stands for Under New Initiative Towards Education on Diversity and is a cultural relations forum that discusses the issues of diversity and discrimination around the USF campus and nationwide. The U.N.I.T.E.D. Summit was created in conjunction with President Bill Clinton’s One America Plan and is being held with the Department of Education in Washington D.C. One America is a plan that Clinton created to address the issue of diversity and to have everyone work toward a common goal to avoid conflicts.
Mike Griffin, student body president and Board of Trustees member said that this event was important for the explanation of diversity issues.
“It has never been a more important time to talk about diversity,” Griffin said.
Rajuan Kimble, SG director for multicultural affairs, said the event is a way of carrying on Clinton’s plan.
“We need to find ways for people to talk and work together and avoid conflict today and the ones that have happened in the past,” Kimble said.
Pacheco, who facilitated the open forum on cultural issues, asked everyone to stand up and share their ethnicity and culture. Among the attendees were those of Mexican, Native American, Caribbean, Irish, English, Italian, Puerto Rican, African American and Jamaican descent.
“It’s unique that everyone connected with someone on some level,” Pacheo said. “That is what diversity is all about.”
Pacheco said diversity is a very important issue on a college campus because college is the place where students find out what they are about and they begin to develop a village of networking.
“It’s all about respect and love,” she said. “One day we will all be able to become equal. Celebrate democracy by being an advocate.”
Before Mincberg spoke, the attendees broke into groups and discussed the issues of education, politics and economics and how each related to diversity and our country.
Mincberg, student body vice president Dave Mincberg’s father, explained that the American Way, an organization of which he is a part, promotes positive American values, provides educational programs and works with legislatures.
“One example that I have been working on and will be back in Florida to defend is the thousands of people who were turned away or did not have polls to vote in the 2000 election,” Elliott Mincberg said.
Pacheco also explained the organizations Arrive with Five and Election Protection, which are also programs of the American Way.
“Arrive with Five is a campaign to mobilize and energize women and make people of color to make their voices heard by participating in elections,” she said.
“Election protection is in response to the 2000 presidential election that educates, advises and helps people register to vote.”Arrive with Five also asks for a person to pledge to vote and a commitment to “arrive with five” to the polls on Election Day.
Kimble ended the event with telling the attendees to make a promise in their heads to commit to the U.N.I.T.E.D. Summit and to spread the word.
“We can go a long way with this. At first I was nervous because I was expecting a lot of people to attend, but I learned that it doesn’t matter how many attend but that everyone benefits,” Kimble said.
Freshman Marques Smith said he thought the event was a great learning experience.
“The event is very important to reach out to students,” Smith said.
“I really learned a lot about diversity and education.”
Junior Shannon Cheek said she agreed with Smith but wished there were more who attended.
“It was very informative. My facilitator was very good in my group and I learned a lot,” Cheek said.
Dave Mincberg said this event is a tradition that SG has had and the attendees need to work to get more people at the event.
“Make a pact to bring more people to make this event happen and expand diversity,” Dave Mincberg said.
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