COLUMBIA — A one-day conference on the University of Missouri campus sparked conversation about social justice including awareness, advocacy and activism on Saturday.
The 5th annual Social Justice Symposium included remarks from keynote speaker Marcia Chatelain, lunch and 16 breakout sessions for people to choose from.
The sessions aimed to address topics such as ethnicity, culture, multiculturalism, women’s advocacy, LGBTQ advocacy, gender, ability and sustainability.
Planning committee member Debrielle De La Haye said there was a wide range of presenters including undergraduate and graduate student leaders on campus, faculty, staff and community members.
She said something new this year was small group discussions throughout the day, and her goal was for people to take away new information and talk about the issues.
“We're going to be bringing awareness to a lot of issues that maybe folks haven’t thought about before and really having the ability to not only think about that but then speak about it with other people and share that information along, I think will be really beneficial for our campus culture and I hope that will be the takeaway,” De La Haye said.
Sage Williams, a MU student, participated in the event with other members of Mizzou Black Men's Initiative.
"Just being able to be a little bit more aware of the different issues that not only myself face, but everyone in our community faces, and how to actively and responsibly attack and really just look at how to deal with these issues and move forward," Williams said.
Katryna Sardis is the graduate assistant at the RSVP center and was on the event’s planning committee.
“Due to everything that’s happened on campus and around our country a lot of students are wondering ‘what can I do, where do I go, this is what’s going on I want to know what my next step should be,’” Sardis said. "So, especially with that activism small group we really want students to kind of generate ideas about what they can do.”
Katie Williams, an MU student and one of the presenters, will speak about how society views trauma.
“It’s relevant to Mizzou’s campus because people who live here have experienced trauma- people who go to school here, teach here,” Williams said. “And we need this campus to feel safe for them and it doesn’t always feel safe.”
Keynote Speaker Marcia Chatelain is an MU alum, the author of "South Side Girls: Growing Up in the Great Migration," and is an associate professor of History and African American Studies at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.
"In light of recent protests at the campus of the University of Missouri, I think it was important to talk to students about how to connect experiences with activism on college campuses to a larger global struggle around certain issues and values," Chatelain said.
The symposium was a collaboration between the Department of Social Justice, the Department of Residential Life and the Center for Leadership & Service. The event was free to MU students, but registration was capped at 120 people.