Diversity Summit

By Aisha Cole

Issues of race, diversity, gaps in education, mental health, prison system among others were discussed during the virtual 2020 Southern Nevada Diversity Summit hosted by College of Southern Nevada.

According to the event’s website, “The Nevada System of Higher Education 2020 Southern Nevada Diversity Summit is designed to provide timely and valuable information about the current and emerging challenges and successes in achieving diversity, equity and inclusion efforts within the United States, Nevada and NSHE. The theme this fall is Knowledge to Action. (The goal was) to make changes in our daily thoughts and behaviors that affect our area of influence and beyond.” 

Ayesha Kidd, associate vice president of Organizational Development and Effectiveness at CSN who participated in the Summit, says, “Diversity, Equity and Inclusion is very important to NSHE and CSN. At CSN DEI is a value and primary focus and we are working to integrate diversity, equity and inclusion into everything we do. The NSHE Diversity Summit is one of our largest events every year. The Summit rotates the host institution; this was CSN’s year to host.”  

Colton Jones, senior specialist in human resources at CSN who helped plan the summit, says, “It provided three speakers on the subject of racial diversity who provided understanding and insights. This gives attendees ample opportunity to really grasp the concept of diversity coming from various reliable speakers.”

Over 1,300 attendees including 100 students were in attendance during the event held Oct. 2, according to Jones.

Professors, students and members of the community across Nevada gathered to discuss issues such as the activist group Black Lives Matter and several topics on policing, the prison system and the need for racial inclusion.

CSN student Serinity Washington, who did not participate in the Summit but as a bi-racial woman who is VP of the Black Student Union at CSN, has strong feelings on these issues. “I feel like (African Americans in the Black Lives Matter movement) are not being taken seriously enough. It is a trending topic but why has it taken so long to get things to change.”

Many feel the same and are frustrated with the lack of equal rights and protections for all in the country.  

“The Summit is important because it provides a safe space for sharing and learning: no voice is too small to be heard and no person too educated to learn,” Kidd says. “It is important for us to remember that just because something is not happening to you personally, it doesn’t mean it’s not happening to someone else. The Summit focuses on listening, becoming an ally to another and changing your thoughts, words, and behaviors to achieve equality, equity and inclusion for all.”

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