Hundreds converge to discuss race in higher education

Students from across Southern California attended Race on Campus: A Student Conference. 

More than 200 students from at least 18 Southern California universities and colleges converged to discuss race and inequality in higher education during Race on Campus: A Student Conference at the University of Redlands.

The student-organized event, which ran Friday and Saturday, May 6 and 7, was sponsored by the University’s Johnston Center for Integrative Studies.

“It was so lively, so fun, so relaxed, and real relationships were made,” said recent Jonston Center graduate Jonathan Garcia ’16, one of the event’s creators. “We were working really hard and talking about difficult things, but it earned everyone a lot of mutual respect.”

The event included several break-away discussion sessions on a variety of topics, including Islamophobia, police brutality and appropriation of Native American culture. Friday night concluded with dinner and an open-mic session, and the event continued Saturday with breakfast and a debriefing.

The conference was part of a May Term course—also called “Race on Campus: A Student Conference”—and students will spend the rest of the term researching what was learned and planning next year’s conference.

Garcia will not be a Redlands student after the May Term and won’t be organizing future events, but he hopes the younger Johnston students will carry the torch.

“It’s important for students to take the lead on it for next year,” he said. “That was the strength of it. It was by students, for students and it needs to be kept that way.”

Blair Newman ’18, a member of the committee that organized the conference, said the event exceeded their expectations. “For the first time putting on a conference, it went extremely smoothly,” she said.