MCIC attendees strengthen diversity

The fourth annual Midwest Culturally Inclusive Conference was held last week on Oct. 2-3.

This year’s theme was “Connect, Engage and Transform,” and was for leaders, teachers, students, administrators and staff that want to strengthen diversity throughout the Midwest and work together to resolve issues involving equity and inclusion. MCIC was free for all University of Wisconsin-Platteville students. Attendance fees were charged for other attendees.

The purpose of the conference was to facilitate participants’ understanding of the equity and economic implications of diversity in the present world, equip participants to stop discrimination in all forms and to foster relationships between diverse groups. This year’s key speakers, Esera Tuaolo, Lee England Jr., Eliza Greenwood, Josie Krueger, Negin Farsad and Diane Nilan,  offered participants a unique opportunity to access in-depth information.

The first day of MCIC kicked off on Thursday with keynote speaker Esera Tuaolo. He spoke about his career with the NFL and how he came out after retiring at the beginning of the millennium.

The final speaker for Thursday was Lee England, Jr., the first non-athlete to be signed by Michael Jordan and the first African-American to have his music accepted within the NFL. He is now a world-renowned violinist who taught at Chicago Public Schools and has composed music for the World Cup.

“If you get it in your head that you are unique, you will see that your dreams should be harvested,” England said.

As part of his keynote, England performed in the Center For the Arts, playing any song the audience suggested, whether it was a well-known song or a simple melody.

The final day of MCIC ended with keynote speaker Jose Antonio Vargas. Abel Chinos, sophomore biology major and peer mentor for the Driven Program, introduced Jose Antonio Vargas, giving a brief overview of Vargas and how he became nationally recognized as an undocumented citizen in the United States.

Vargas is considered an undocumented citizen who was brought to the United States when he was 12 years old. He has tried for more than 20 years to obtain legal documentation for United States citizenship, and is one of 12 million undocumented citizens within the United States.

“In 2010, undocumented workers brought in $94.5 million in state and local taxes in Wisconsin,” Vargas said.

Vargas went on to further explain how undocumented workers help out the economy by doing taxable work.

“Angela Miller, head of OSMA [Office of Multicultural Student Affairs] wanted me to be the presenter for Jose,” Chinos said.

Students from different perspectives attended these events, allowing for more diversity and better conversations during the question and answer sessions after each keynote speaker.

“I went to ‘Common Core for the Uncommon Student’ because my major is education and it’s applicable to me,” Alex Larson, senior agriculture and technology education major said.

Larson attended four of the presenters on Friday, stating that he heard about the MCIC during one of his political science classes last year, but was unable to attend.

“I think it’s really good for the community to become involved and have students become involved. The fact that it was free for students, shows how the school wants students to attend these events,” Chinos said.