A conference to examine the intersecting realities of normative violence and everyday resistance in communities will be held at Fresno State. Student activist-scholars will explore gender, race, and sexuality through topics such as cultural representation, history, literature, film, social media, politics, and the CSU system at the Gender, Race, and Sexuality Undergraduate Conference.
“The reason I wanted to do this was to give opportunities to our students – not only in Women’s Studies but the campus – to do an undergraduate conference dedicated to the topics and intersections around gender, race, and sexuality,” said Dr. Katherine Fobear, conference committee coordinator.
It’s the first of its kind undergraduate conference on the Fresno State campus organized by Women’s Studies majors and minors as part of a two-unit course. Dr. Fobear says the purpose of the student-run conference is to help students develop skills, and gain experience to take forward, but also help them feel like they are a part of a scholar community.
Nine students have been working on the conference doing everything from media to selecting presenters and submissions, a challenging but rewarding task.
Over 70 students from across the CSU System submitted their research hoping to be chosen as presenters. Women’s Studies students combed through all of the submissions and chose the ones that best fit the conference dialogue. They were incredibly surprised at the number of submissions received because they thought they’d be lucky to even get ten. For Fobear, it validated her reasoning for wanting to make the conference a reality.
“It speaks to, that there are fewer opportunities for undergrads to present their work. So there is a demand, need, and interest for this. I wanted to provide an opportunity for students to present their work because they do amazing work in their classes,” Fobear said.
Several of the Fresno State students organizing the conference will have the opportunity to present their own work. Students from CSU San Francisco, Chico, Long Beach, San Marcos, Dominguez Hills, Sonoma, San Diego, Cal Poly, and University of Richmond (VA) have also been chosen to present.
One of the students running the conference and panel moderator, Belle Vang, believes it’s important to share and showcase the knowledge her fellow student-scholars have – with the community, in an effort to make everyone a little more open-minded.
“I think it’s important for the community to be aware because it’s going to focus on a lot of topics that, if you’re not within that community, you’re not going to know about it. For example, I’m a business major so I don’t really talk about gender, race, and sexuality. But ever since I’ve been in the Women’s Studies program we talk a lot about those topics and how it affects your education and interaction with the community. A lot of people have a negative stigma against it, so I think it’s super important that people know that the conference is an open environment,” Vang said.
College of Social Sciences Dean, Dr. Michelle DenBeste will introduce the conference followed by Professor Aileen Rizo, a voice for equity, inclusiveness, and diversity, who will deliver the keynote address. There will also be four interactive blocks of panels throughout the day and tabling by community organizations during the lunch hour. For the full list of times, presenters and community organizers click here.
Fobear encourages people from the community to attend the conference. “Come and get an experience,” Fobear said, “It’s a great way to celebrate the work we’re doing here at Fresno State.”
The Gender, Race, and Sexuality Undergraduate Conference is free and open to the public. It will take place on Friday, April 26 in the Henry Madden Library (Rooms 2127, 2206, 3212) from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. For more information, contact GRSConference@mail.fresnostate.edu