CSU Equity Conference to Take Place Nov. 16 to 20

Catalyst: From Agitation to Action provides a place for real, honest and authentic dialogues about equity at CapU

Bridget Stringer-Holden // Associate News Editor

The Capilano Students’ Union (CSU) will be hosting an equity conference called Catalyst: From Agitation to Action, from Nov. 16 to Nov. 20. It will be a series of remote sessions held from 6 pm to 9 pm over Zoom. Capilano University (CapU) students, faculty and staff are able to register for free, while others can purchase a ticket for $25. 

What sets this conference apart are the hands-on aspects that allow members of the CapU community to be involved and engaged. “Attendees should expect a real, honest and authentic dialogue on equity,” said Shanti Scarpetta-Lee, Vice-President of Equity and Sustainability at the Capilano Students’ Union. “This isn’t going to be a more traditional conference where you go and there are presenters and you listen to them and that’s it, it is going to be a lot more interactive and personal.”

The keynote speaker for the conference is Ta7talíya Michelle Nahanee from the organization Decolonizing Practices. “I heard her speak at Stratagem [an online diversity and inclusion conference] in July, she’s amazing,” said Scarpetta-Lee. For this conference, Nahanee will be speaking about Indigenous issues and the process of decolonizing, as well as how those topics relate to equity. The exact details of the sessions were left up to Nahanee to decide how she would like to interpret them.

Scarpetta-Lee encourages people to attend the conference, especially those who wish they could do more in terms of anti-racism or equity work. This provides a space where they can talk about those issues in detail. The conversations will be an opportunity to learn the skills and acquire the necessary tools to do that kind of work. “We don’t want cost to be a barrier for anyone,” said Scarpetta-Lee, mentioning that in order to reduce barriers, the CSU is also offering free tickets to folx experiencing financial hardship.

Apart from the work, Scarpetta-Lee mentioned that it’d be a nice break from classes and other stresses, noting the planned performances, art and prizes. “I think it’ll be a nice combination of the fun aspect and then also what can people do about racism now,” said Scarpetta-Lee. “They can learn the skills and get the tools they need to keep doing the work.”

As the only VP of Equity and Sustainability in BC, Scarpetta-Lee’s been able to tailor the role to what’s most important in the moment. She’s in charge of the collective liaisons, facilitating their activities and bringings their voices to board and the executive. I ♥ Consent is a new campaign within the scope of Scarpetta-Lee’s work with sexualized violence and misconduct. Mental health, climate and sustainability initiatives are also part of her portfolio, with the responsibility to host events such as this one.

While she’s the executive that’s spearheading the conference, Kristi De Wolf was hired through the Canada Summer Jobs program as the Equity Conference Coordinator to assist with the logistics of the conference and the more operational side of it. Lori Kosciuw, the Director of Advocacy, and Chris Girodat, the Executive Director, are others who are involved in the planning and preparation.

These topics were something that the executive committee had been in the works for some time. Anti-racism was a topic that was in the annual operating plan, which is based on the CSU’s new 2020-2025 Strategic Plan, and approved at the beginning of the year.

“These problems have always been a really big issue, so many of them have been really exemplified these past few months,” said Scarpetta-Lee, referring to COVID and all the anti-Asian racism that came from that, as well as the Black Lives Matter movements. “It’s clear that these are things that we need to be talking about on a larger scale and makes this work even more important,” she said.

When redoing their budget, the CSU surveyed their members to see what the budget priorities would be in case cuts needed to be made. “Students showed overwhelming support for equity work, instead of more of a focus on services, resources or on-campus events,” said Scarpetta-Lee. “This proves that this work is something that our membership really cares about too.”

Register for Catalyst: From Agitation to Action via eventbrite. CapU community members and those experiencing financial hardship are able to register for free, while the general public can purchase tickets for $25.

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