Bridge to Change Conference seeks to teach students equitable leadership

Students will have the chance to earn credits towards their EDI certificate

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Praxis post
December 9, 2020

Photo by Emma Steiler

Bridge to Change will be from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Nov. 8.

UW-Eau Claire’s Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Center is hosting the Bridge to Change Conference at 10 a.m. to 4 p.m on Nov. 8.

The event — according to its website — is an opportunity to bring student leaders together to explore inclusive leadership while “focusing on equity and diversity.”

Dang Yang, the director of the Office of Multicultural Affairs, said this conference is seeking to focus on inclusive leadership.

“When you look at any abstract idea, there are multiple lenses you can interpret the information through,” said Yang. “What we’re hoping to do is take the idea of leadership and interpret it through the lens of equity.”

This is a student-centric event, with the event page noting it is meant to “bring student leaders together.” Yang said this conference is meant to teach students one way a concept can be viewed through a different lens.

“We can look at equity through the lens of education or economics or social sciences — there are a lot of ways to interpret an abstract idea,” Yang said. “Part of the conversation is how we intentionally focus on a lens to get the outcomes we hope to get.”

This conference is set up to have three breakout groups with four sessions, according to Jodi Thesing-Ritter, the director of Blugold Beginnings and executive director of EDI. 

During these breakout groups, students will be able to pick a session they’re interested in and do some teaching, learning and active engagement activities on the topic.

“Students will get some information and they might have to process it or they might have to make a product as a team,” Thesing-Ritter said. “For example, one of the topics being covered during breakout groups is on first nations and land recognition in Wisconsin.”

The Bridge to Change Conference is also a way for students to earn credits towards their EDI certification. Depending on the sessions they do, Thesing-Ritter said students are likely to leave with four credits.

“On the same website that you sign up for the conference is where you can sign up for other sessions that also earn credits,” Thesing-Ritter said. “Content is varied and broad so students can select their learning method and topic of interest and hopefully see themselves in some form of the training options.”

On top of the credits students have the opportunity to earn from this conference is the chance to get to hear Romeo Jackson, an educator and LGBTQ and Gender program coordinator for the University of Nevada – Las Vegas. 

They are the keynote speaker for this event and will be talking about the marginalization of groups on campus.

“A lot of campuses have built spaces for students of marginalized identities through resource centers,” Jackson said. “As a result of that, one of the things that can happen is those spaces become so rigid that they may actually be hurting them because they have to choose between their identities.”

This is just a small portion of what Jackson will be covering during their presentation. Another topic talks about the focus of the conference, which is teaching leadership through the lens of equity.

“The talk will center around what it means to support queer and trans students of color in higher education,” Jackson said. “When I think about inclusion, I think about the ‘margins of the margins” and how to center their wants, needs and desires.”

A link to sign up for the conference can be found here.

Strong can be reached at [email protected]