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K-State Today

January 25, 2018

Housing and Dining Services hosts KSUnity Conference

Submitted by Danielle K. Badgett

On Jan. 21, Housing and Dining Services invited students from on and off campus to discuss diversity, inclusion and social justice. The inaugural KSUnity Conference gathered more than 100 participants who were willing to have difficult conversations with each other.

Carley Saunders, assistant coordinator for the Housing and Dining Services' departmental initiatives team, was responsible for planning and implementing the conference in Kramer Dining Center. The event included a keynote speech given by Jessica Elmore, associate director of diversity programs for the K-State Alumni Association. Elmore encouraged students to think about social justice as it relates to ignorance versus self-interest, social capital, equity, assumptions and assimilation.

After the keynote, students chose from two sets of breakout sessions: Socioeconomic status, personal racial bias or activism; and sacrifice, advocacy or campus resources. Presenters included Kait Long, program associate for the Staley School of Leadership Studies; Tara Coleman, Hale Library associate professor; Brandon Haddock, coordinator for the university's LGBT Resource Center; Tess Hobson, advisor for the Office of Undergraduate Research and Creative Inquiry; and Housing and Dining Services staff members Samantha Boren, Jessica Girdler, Melinda Gilliam, Mary White and Ayanna Phillips.

Due to the overwhelmingly positive feedback received from attendees, another conference is anticipated for next year.

Housing and Dining Services thanks all of the offices that assisted in advertising this conference, as well as the attendees, presenters and volunteers for their commitment to unity on the K-State campus.