Oct 192003
 
Authors: Ben Bleckley

Students from various backgrounds met in the Durrell Center

Saturday to discuss issues of diversity in CSU’s fifth annual

Students of Color Retreat.

“We challenge you today to take risks,” said Christine Whang,

addressing the people gathered for the retreat. Whang is a graduate

student in student affairs in higher education and coordinator of

the retreat.

Fort Collins Mayor Ray Martinez shared some stories of working

for the police department and running for office.

“You’re going to talk today a little about yourselves,” Martinez

said. “People are assessing you when you come up here, who you are,

what you represent.”

After the mayor addressed the students at 9 a.m., they started

the long day ahead of them. The day included an hour-long

presentation on affirmative action, discussion sessions and

presentations on stereotypes and making racially based

assumptions.

When the retreat ended at 4:30 p.m. Saturday, some students said

they were too tired to answer questions.

“We’ve heard about all these issues, but it’s not always in our

head,” said Jimena Pena, a senior international studies student.

“It reinforced what we already know (about other cultures).”

Rachael Bonnington, a senior chemical engineering major, has

attended the retreat for two years.

“I went to the retreats to learn about other students’

experiences at CSU,” Bonnington said. “It has doubled in size. That

tells you a lot about how great the retreat is.”

In fact, the retreat has become so popular that students were

actually turned away.

“It was either the second or third year where there were only

about 16 people here,” said Annalyn Cruz, the retreat’s lead

coordinator and graduate assistant for leadership and diversity in

Campus Activities. “This year we got over 120 applications, and I

seriously had to turn down about 40 people on the last day.”

Almost four months of planning went into the retreat.

“Basically I came here at the end of July and this is all I’ve

been concentrating on,” Cruz said. “(Planning) started even before

I came.”

Thoughts are already simmering for the 2004 retreat.

“Next year we’re hoping to have it in the Lory Student Center,

and just have it bigger,” said Cruz. “We’re thinking about making

it a two-day instead of one-day.”

Cruz and others are optimistic of coming years.

“It’s becoming a big campus-wide collaborative event,” she said.

“More people are getting involved and more people are learning

about it.”

 

 

 

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