Diversity dialogue on campus

Shedeene Hewitt , Reporter

The Office of Equity and Diversity recently concluded it’s first program of a three-part series promoting their current slogan, “See No Evil, Hear No Evil, and Speak No evil.”

This small series, which began during the fall semester of 2013, was an idea promoted by Lavere Foster, a graduate student working alongside Pride Alliance of SUNY Buffalo State. Now going into its second year, the Diversity Dialogue Series held “The Mass Media, Social Network, and Technology” roundtable last Thursday in Campbell Student Union’s Assembly Halls 1 and 2.

It was led by facilitators Ramona Santa Maria, assistant professor for the Computer Information Systems Department, and Michael Niman, communication department professor.

The goal behind the program was to explore the effects that mass media, social networks and technology have on society.

The groups of attendees were taken through a PowerPoint presentation depicting privacy issues on the popular social network, Facebook.

Students from Santa Maria’s class presented a scenario in which a female student took a photo in a bikini, which was then used by her school in its own program on what not to post on Facebook. The student then proceeded to sue her school. The main story was not the lawsuit, but the audience’s views on the situation and why they responded they way they did.

Many questions arose, such as, was this an invasion of privacy? Copyright infringement? Is social media really private?  What age, race or area was the student from? Much of this program was to help attendees focus on their own thoughts, which are projections of their culture.  Every culture has different ways of life, which affects the way certain groups of people see things.

While speaking to the room, Santa Maria addressed the cultural perspective’s affects on society.

“We become very self-focused with the way we view everything, and as college students at a university, we are critical thinkers and that’s what we need to do,” she said. “Whenever we get into a situation and we’re about to make a judgment on a person, place, thing, situation, we need, in order to say we are open-minded people, we need to pull ourselves out of the situation and look at it from a different perspective.”

Jessica Micha, graduate assistant for the office of equity and campus diversity, sat down to share her office’s goal behind this year’s program.

“I would have to (say it’s about) opening your mind to new possibilities,” Micha said. “Being able to walk into a room and not have so many filters. Also participation, we’re really focusing on getting the students and hopefully more faculty involved. It does take a team.”

While last year’s program focused on sexuality on the basis of gender, status and race, this year there was a drive to focus on a Title IX issue which states, “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any educational program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.”