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Dallas Wiertella
Dallas Wiertella
Multimedia Editor

Through my experience here at the North Wind I have been able to have the privilege of highlighting students through all forms of multimedia journalism. Whether I'm in front or behind the camera, I aim...

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The North Wind is an independent student publication serving the Northern Michigan University community. It is partially funded by the Student Activity Fee. The North Wind digital paper is published daily during the fall and winter semesters except on university holidays and during exam weeks. The North Wind Board of Directors is composed of representatives of the student body, faculty, administration and area media.

Students protest against Israel-Hamas war with campus encampment
Students protest against Israel-Hamas war with campus encampment
Dallas WiertellaApril 30, 2024

UNITED offers array of talks on diversity


To further spread the message of diversity and inclusion across campus and the Marquette Community, the 12th annual Uniting Neighbors In The Experience of Diversity (UNITED) Conference will take place from 10 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 25 and Tuesday, Sept. 26 in the Great Lakes Rooms of the University Center.

This year’s conference will include 24 speakers discussing an array of topics in the form of lecture, art, film and music. The conference is meant to promote diversity in the broadest sense, Shirley Brozzo, conference chair and director of NMU’s Multicultural Education and Resource Center (MERC), said.

“It’s not just racial diversity or sexual orientation, but also poverty, different ‘ism’s’, religion—you name it. We’ve got a lot of different things going on this year,” Brozzo said. “We’re looking for other ways to get the diversity message out on campus and hopefully reach out and touch some other people that you don’t see in the [MERC] office everyday, but maybe they’ll come in and listen to a presentation whether it’s assigned for extra credit or it’s just something they’re interested in.”

While the number of speakers is comparable to previous conferences, this year’s UNITED Conference speakers will cover a wider range of topics of discussion. One new area of diversity to be explored is linguistic diversity, as students and faculty will be reading poems in foreign languages. Conference speaker Robin Jones will address universal design or the composition of making spaces more accessible for people with different disabilities, Brozzo said.

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“It might give some new ideas for students, say, in the art department when they’re designing their different furniture or just the different ways we can make our offices or classrooms more accessible for everybody to be able to use.”

In previous years, religious diversity was one area of discussion the conference seemed to lack in, Brazzo added, but this year Lama Tsultrim Gyaltsen will discuss this through his topic of interconnectedness.

Hip-hop artist and activist Olmeca, who performed at NMU last year, will return for the conference, this time with a bit of a different message.

“He’ll be talking about Latinx identity. I think that’s something kind of new and different. We haven’t had a lot about different identity issues and I think Carter Wilson is also looking at identity issues, our own professor from here,” Brazzo said.

NMU faculty and staff make up a portion of the speakers at this year’s conference. Associate Professor of English Lesley
Larkin and English Department Head and Professor Lynn Domina will speak about their
experiences teaching in China.

“They’re a part of one of our two panels that are speaking and we’re going to get to hear some of their experience in going somewhere else and maybe people will be more enthused about going there as well,” Brazzo said.

Brazzo believes hearing from NMU professors enhances diversity within their own lectures and gives students another

“You may be going to hear your own professor speak about a topic that maybe you’re not going to cover in class, or they’re going to go more in depth, or you’re going to hear from an outside presenter about something that’s also equally important.”

Hearing colleagues discuss their topics of interest is also beneficial for other professors who attend, Brazzo said.

“We’re always interested in other things too. I mean we all have our areas of specialty of course, but then it’s like ‘oh that sounds really interesting’ or it’s something you’re interested in in your personal life as well and just want to learn something more about it.”

The conference offers a space for the community to be more engaged with campus and its activities while spreading the importance of diversity across both.

“We always try to look for presenters from various and diverse backgrounds as well as topics that are various and diverse. Sometimes it will be whatever is going on out in the world. We try to get something that is going to compliment what’s happening and also just hit some of the highlights,” Brazzo said.

For more information or a detailed schedule of the UNITED Conference lineup visit the UNITED Conference webpage on NMU’s website.

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