NMU hosts 16th Annual UNITED Conference

The conference gives marginalized students the chance to tell their own stories.
Published: Mar. 20, 2023 at 5:09 PM EDT
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MARQUETTE, Mich. (WLUC) - NMU is looking to educate its students about diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Student and community organizations filled Ballrooms 1 and 2 at the Northern Center for the 16th Annual UNITED Conference. The conference gives marginalized students the chance to tell their own stories.

Latinx Student Union President Rosalva Brito said this conference brings attention to the diversity on campus.

“I think that with this conference we really have the opportunity to make ourselves known,” Brito said. “To just show that we are actively working hard to make the diversity on this campus a little bit bigger.”

Students of color only make up 11.6% of NMU’s Student Body as of the Fall 2022 semester. The theme of this year’s conference is “Writing Our Own Stories.”

“Writing our own stories has a lot to do with different cultural experiences for me personally,” said Black Student Union President Marlanaysia Rosser. “Because, of course, it’s as if I have to work twice as hard a lot of times, so being able to lead my own path, and have my own journey, and be proud of that, is just amazing.”

The conference opened to the public at 8:00 a.m. It ended at 8:30 p.m. with a keynote speaker chosen from NMU’s Diversity Common Reader Program. UNITED Conference Chair Stefani Vargas said this program has made a deep impact on the university.

“Not only do I see that as a staff member, but I was actually a student who got to introduce the diversity common reader author when I was here,” Vargas said. “As a Northern student for the very first year of DCRP, I still remember what it was like to be a student that felt very represented by that author.”

Vargas said it’s important to let students share their own experiences.

“Those of us that are often marginalized by society tend to get stories written about us, ‘Writing Our Own Stories’ is about doing just that,” Vargas said. “Taking control and authoring our own stories, our own journeys.”

Vargas said the conference allows the community to listen and learn from the adversity students of color have faced.

Click here to learn more about the UNITED Conference.