Symposium addresses cultural pluralism

Kelsey Neubauer, Staff Writer

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 UVM’s devotion to cultural pluralism is promoted through education for students and faculty, according to the UVM website.

Dr. Lacretia Johnson Flash, the senior advisor and chief of staff to the vice president for human resources, diversity and multicultural affairs hosted UVM’s eighth annual Blackboard Jungle Symposium March 26-27, according to the event’s website. “It is a beautiful thing to have the freedom to speak and the freedom to express, but it also important to remember the power of our words,” Flash said.

Blackboard Jungle Symposium was an event created in 2007 to promote “inclusive excellence” at the University, according to the UVM website. Louise Leu, who works in administrative support for the Center for Cultural Pluralism, said that events like these are very important for life at the University. “[We need to promote] inclusion through education, no one can possibly know every experience that everyone goes through,” she said.

The kickoff event included a keynote speech by UVM professor Emily Bernard, the website stated. Students, such as first-year Fardowsa Ibrahim, said they were excited to hear Bernard give her talk “Real Talk about the N-Word and Other Oppressive Language.”

“I am here to hear the truth be spoken,” Ibrahim said.

Bernard spoke about the how the use of the word has changed over time, and how it came to became more than just a word.  She said the word has become a wound in American society. “To experience the wound is not to be black or white, but to be human,” she said.

Students, such as  Lydia Milliken believe that every student should have been at the event. She said that she cannot describe in words the impact that the event had on her. “They went over so many different topics, it gave me such good insight in how to behave in a multiracial setting, which I have been trying to understand for a really long time, they spoke about things that are never spoken about,” said Milliken.

The event is intended to use the “transforming power of education,”  Flash said. The event was part of a professional development series, according to the event’s website.