Students of color gather

Oct 302005
Authors: Elena Ulyanova, Kathryn Dailey

While attending CSU, Seraphina Wall , a keynote speaker at the Seventh Annual Student of Color Retreat, said professors often put on the spot when a Native American issue arose.

"I pretty much had to speak for my people," said Wall, CSU alumna and Native American Student Services program coordinator.

Originally Wall said she felt on her own when she realized she was one in four "colored" people in a class of about 200 students, but then used the situation to speak her mind and educate others about Native Americans.

Wall's story illustrated the theme of Saturday's retreat, "Weaving Legacies."

"I believe your past, present and future is who you are today," Wall said.

Increasing connections between students of color on the CSU campus was one of the purposes of the retreat.

"(The purpose of the retreat) is really to talk about what it is like to be a student of color on a predominantly white campus, what resources there are," said Alexis Kanda-Olmstead , assistant director of Student Leadership and Civic Engagement (SLCE).

Despite the title, the retreat was open to students of all ethnicities.

"I really commend our majority students who come because it's really easy not to," Kanda-Olmstead said.

The daylong retreat featured breakout sessions such as "Surviving as Person of Color on a Predominantly White Campus," and "Diversity, Again?" The breakout sessions provided a more intimate setting for attendees to share personal experiences on the topic of diversity at CSU.

"(The retreat) gives us an opportunity to conversate and get to know each other," said Brian Hayes, junior business major. "It makes this big campus smaller."

After lunch and entertainment, participants contributed part of their legacy to that of the retreat in the form of a "multi-cultural quilt."

Each person created his or her own square to be sewn into the quilt, which Kanda-Olmstead described as a physical representation of the retreat's theme.

The retreat was a collaboration of not only student advocacy offices, but also the Office of the Vice President of Student Affairs, the Lory Student Center, SLCE and the Honors Program .

The day ended with team building and time for reflection.

"It's interesting to hear different perspectives of people on campus because I'm not always aware of it," said Karlena Delange, sophomore human development and family studies major.

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