The Social Justice Conference in the Central Valley made a reappearance at Stan State today, nearly four weeks from the time it was first scheduled and canceled due to the campus closure.
According to Dr. James Tuedio, Dean of the College of the Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences, said the conference reboot will be done in "pieces."
"I wanted to try to salvage a few sessions before this fall semester ended, but most of what we'll reschedule will be in spring," Tuedio said.
The aptly titled conference, "Back From the Smoke (Act One)," will feature panelists discussing the ways in which people can organize to bring attention to "disadvantaged underrepresented communities in the Central Valley," according to the electronic conference flyer sent to faculty.
The rescheduling process for today's conference was a combination of using speakers who could help celebrate Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Day, as well as drawing attention to Malaquias Montoya's exhibit, "Voice for the Voiceless," and his artist talk in Stan State's Art Gallery before it is closed on Dec. 18.
Tuedio added that rescheduling the entire conference for one day, specifically the last instructional day of the semester, posed some challenges. However, the fact that people were disappointed to hear the conference was canceled meant that there was interest in attending the conference reboot.
"There was a lot of excitement among the speakers in particular for this program because of the synergies across the topics," Tuedio said. "I think they were just as disappointed as I was. The faculty was disappointed as well because they had lined up opportunities for their students to do extra credit/ scholarly work...and students were disappointed because they were planning to come."
Tuedio said there was a disappointment revolving around the conference's cancellation but its return sparked a certain degree of happiness amongst speakers, which made it easier to realign the conference. However, he added, "It's likely to be a much smaller audience."
Adam Fleenor, a geographer getting his Ph.D. at UC Merced and a Stan State graduate student alumnus, is currently doing research on different applications of GIS, specifically how indigenous communities understand and use GIS for social independence.
He was planning on coming to the conference prior to it being canceled. He added that the information he would receive at the conference would be a "pivotal part" of his research.
"I was looking forward to this information, and the presentations," Fleenor said. "I was so happy that they rescheduled at least a part of it. It was actually better for my schedule that it was at the end of the semester."
Jessica Valero (senior, Psychology) decided to attend the conference because of a mandatory part of her class. After looking over the pamphlet of panelists, she became interested in the speaker Lourdes Olivia, a member of the Delores Huerta Foundation Community Organization. “I wanted to see the whole point about what the organization is and see what could happen if something similar came here.”
Valero wasn’t planning on attending this particular presentation, but she hoped to learn “ways this foundation can be implemented here on campus, maybe through clubs or organizations, also how the whole Latino culture can gain from it.”
Valero’s friend, Fabiola Herrera (senior, Psychology/Child Development) seemed eager for the presentation to start. “I’ve heard of her and I want to see more of what she does. I know she’s an advocate for Latinos and was planning to come to this conference on that Wednesday but the smoke pushed everything back 'til now.”
Herrera’s reasoning for attending, like Valero’s, was because it was a requirement but it also gave her resources for her research, which includes research on Spanish and English children of Latino descent.
"I know that Dolores Huerta is an advocate for Latinos, so that’s why I chose this one," Herrera said.
Oliva began her presentation with a remark about the cancellation of the conference due to the fires. She told the audience that "as organizers, we just have to keep going and going." The audience laughed along with her, and she continued speaking about the organization she had come to represent.
The night will entail four-panel sessions from 3:45 to 8:15 pm.
Looking forward, Tuedio said they had "four very important farmworker research speakers coming" for March 11 and 12. He said from there they will build the rest of the conference around the speakers. He hoped to get the conference speakers settled before Christmas so faculty can realign their courses for the spring conference.
"It's just tough, this is our last instructional day, so we couldn't go past today. We couldn't get into last week quickly enough, so this was it, this was our one shot, and I have no idea if people will come or not, but I still wanted to take a shot at it," Tuedio said.
This article has been edited for sentence structure and to embed images in text.