Students discuss diversity, social justice at annual Boca campus conference

Free workshops educated students about stereotypes toward minorities.


Workshop leaders Mikhail Guseynov, Flavia Paul, and Annie Baron discuss the Kendall Jenner Pepsi ad that drew controversy last year. Rachel Gavilan | Contributing Writer

Rachel Gavilan, Contributing Writer

Nearly 200 FAU students, staff, and faculty gathered to discuss social justice issues at the annual WeLead Diversity Matters Student Leadership Symposium on Saturday.

Hosted by the Office of of Diversity and Multicultural Affairs, the symposium provided 24 educational workshops and two keynote speakers, political commentator Rosa Clemente and diversity activist Michael Benitez.

The event, held in the Student Union, focused heavily on diversity and sensitivity toward minorities. During the “How to Entrepreneur 101: The Tale of Multiculturalism” workshop, Elite Owl Annie Baron played the controversial Kendall Jenner Pepsi commercial, which drew widespread criticism last year.

She asked the audience what was wrong with the ad. Students participated in simple exercises exploring their “multidimensional identities.”

“It’s not just the golden rule: treat others how you want to be treated,” said workshop leader, Mikhail Guseynov. “It’s the platinum rule: treat others how they want to be treated.”

The symposium drew an array of students, some to fulfill an orientation leader requirement and others attended out of curiosity.

Homecoming 2017 king Al Campbell attended the symposium.

“I just wanted to keep obtaining knowledge on how to make a personal impact on people,” Campbell said.

The concluding keynote speaker, Michael Benitez, envisioned a future without oppression and labels. He shared anecdotes of his personal experiences with racism as a Puerto Rican man.

“Diversity doesn’t mean that everything’s okay.  It doesn’t stop with representation. It doesn’t stop with recruitment,” Benitez said, “So then I have to pose one question to you all: what does it mean to invite someone into your community? What does it mean to invite someone and say, ‘This is your home away from home?’”

Rachel Gavilan is a contributing writer with the University Press. For information regarding this or other stories, email [email protected].