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Students share their experience about race, ethnicity and diversity

On its 25th year, STAR it hopes it can go for at least 25 more years

Cris Rivera, Staff Writer

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As racial tensions continue to cause debate in America, the Students Talk About Race program is attempting to address and diffuse the issue.

STAR is a six-hour training workshop hosted by the Office of Multicultural Affairs each semester. The STAR program started in 1992 thanks to James Sauceda, the director of the office of multicultural affairs and founder of the Multicultural Center at Cal State Long Beach.

“We are trying to rolemodel compassionate conversation that can respect even someone who holds a very different view than you,” Sauceda said. “It’s not here to ratify any single position.”

The training program has been recognized as “Promising Practices” by former President Bill Clinton’s Commission on Race. According to Sauceda, the curriculum has been used and adapted by other schools, businesses and organizations.

“Students come from any major and any background — there’s no class standing, no prerequisites,” Sauceda said. “You’re coming here to get your own skills on cross-cultural facilitation with how to approach key issues of diversity, race and ethnicity.”

This semester’s workshop took place in the conference room of the Multicultural Center on Oct. 28. A group of 40 people, most of whom were strangers to each other, spoke about stories and ideas about race, ethnicity and diversity.

“The STAR training program is a program that everyone should go to if they have the time,” said Kenny Nguyen, a transfer student majoring in political science. “I think it should be a requirement to take it so that you can see and experience the world differently.”

Nguyen believes this training workshop could have an immediate impact on the campus if everyone attended and could create a closer community in the process.

“In my experience I’ve seen a lot of students hang out with their own race on campus,” Nguyen said. “So I think it’s a good way to break down stereotypes and experience different cultures and being more open-minded.”

Camille Williams, an accounting major in her senior year, was surprised at the authenticity of the workshop and the openness of other individuals.

“We were talking about things that were very sensitive,” Williams said. “It wasn’t done in a superficial manner; it was very expressive. I wasn’t really motivated to go until they mentioned it in the leadership academy, but I’m glad that gave me the incentive to go because I would’ve missed out on a really incredible experience.”

Kirsten Garberg, a senior communications major expressed a similar sentiment after participating in the training workshop.

“For that moment of time, [I was] no longer [in] a room of strangers, but they were more now like my family due to listening to some of the stories being told,” Garberg said. “If people took this course they might be able to be more understanding about people’s culture, their race and where they come from.”

Despite the program’s success over the years, a training workshop like this does not come without its difficulties.

“It’s always challenging because in this kind of training you never demonize what you would call the opposition,” Sauceda said. “It’s like what Dr. [Martin Luther King Jr.] said: our goal is understanding another’s point of view; we don’t dehumanize anybody.”

One aspect Sauceda hopes to add in future versions of the curriculum is a section about faith.

“I want to add an interfaith lesson on respecting people across religious backgrounds and how we can challenge islamophobia and challenge anti-semitism,” Sauceda said.  

As there is only one workshop each semester and there is no date set for the Spring semester, if interested in attending, Sauceda recommends calling the Multicultural Center to be put on an early list to be contacted when an official date is determined.

1 Comment

One Response to “Students share their experience about race, ethnicity and diversity”

  1. Kalaisha on November 8th, 2017 11:09 am

    This article is confusing. It makes it seem like it’s the campus water in general but the email sent by the school says it’s isolated to the McIntosh building. It’s unclear.

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