From April 11 to 13, Students for Equity and Diversity will bring back Campus Fusion, a festival focused on making the University of Texas at Austin more inclusive.
Story by Jacqueline Ramos
Students for Equity and Diversity is an agency that is part of the Multicultural Engagement Center. The objective of SED is to “promote awareness of diversity issues prevalent in our society through interactive workshops, peer-facilitated dialogue, programs and outreach efforts.” In the past, SED has organized several events, from a retreat for women of color, to a workshop about being a student activist.
After a ten year absence, Campus Fusion, hosted by SED, will be back with activities ranging from workshops about diversity led by notable professors to a documentary screening. Co-Director of Internal Relations for SED Monica Torres believes that it is important to celebrate and talk about diversity at UT. “[Campus Fusion is] meant to have a conversation about what inclusivity and diversity mean on campus,” Torres says.
The festival will begin on Monday, April 11 with a Kick Off Event from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Gregory Plaza, where students will be given the opportunity to learn about organizations on campus that focus on minority identities. There will also be a DJ, free pizza, games and prizes.
On Tuesday, the activities will continue with workshops in the Student Activity Center in room 2.120 from 11 a.m. to noon and 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. Professors and teaching assistants will lead workshops focusing on visibility and inclusivity. “They’ll be talking about identities on campus that aren’t seen as often and aren’t included in the culture of the campus,” says Jasmine Barnes, director of public relations for SED. “[Campus Fusion is about] the difference between campus being diverse and making [minorities] feel accepted and included in the community. You’re able to embrace different cultures and people are able to feel celebrated for their differences”.
From 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. in the SAC auditorium, there will be a screening of “Precious Knowledge,” a documentary about students at Tucson High School in Arizona fighting to keep their Mexican American studies program. “The movie talks about how it’s becoming more popular to save money [for ethnic studies],” Barnes says. “[Ethnic studies] are not seen as necessary, especially as we’re pushing for more STEM majors.” Although the fight for ethnic studies programs started half a century ago, students across the United States are still fighting for administration to create or keep these programs. The documentary highlights the young students’ struggle with keeping their culture’s history in their school.
On Wednesday, the final day of Campus Fusion, there will be multiple performances from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Gregory Plaza for “Color Your World!” a cultural showcase. There will be a wide range of acts, including Longhorn Salsa to Voices of Africa and Austin Chinese Dance Company.
Director of External Relations for SED Jackie Tellez says that Campus Fusion gives minority students a chance to feel more included in campus culture through these events. “Interacting with the communities while appreciating what they bring to the university is what SED wants students to take away from Campus Fusion.”