By Ladan Mohamed, deputy chief of staff, ASUU
The much anticipated annual Conference on Diverse Excellence (C.O.D.E.) hosted by ASUU will be held all day on Feb. 1, 2019, in the A. Ray Olpin Union Building. This year’s theme, “Unite For Justice,” will focus on bringing peoples of diverse backgrounds together in order to educate, uplift and support one another.
The organizers of C.O.D.E. are excited to feature author and activist Blair Imani as this year’s keynote speaker. Imani identifies as black, queer and Muslim. In addition to being a writer, public speaker and ambassador of Muslims for Progressive Values, one of the oldest progressive Muslim organizations to support the LGBTQ+ community, Imani is a published author, with her premier book “Modern HERstory: Stories of Women and Nonbinary People Rewriting History.”
The purpose of this event is to create dialogue and build consciousness around systems of oppression, privilege and solidarity through a social justice lens. We use “diverse” as a noun, adjective and verb to recognize diversity work as both a process and a goal to achieve excellence.
Attendees can RSVP here in advance or register the day of the event. C.O.D.E. is a free event to the public. Attendees can look forward to free swag, free food, connecting with other student leaders, networking with faculty and staff, and partnering with allies and advocates, building upon their social justice education and knowledge in order to create change on campus and in their communities.
With this theme, participants will actively engage in workshops and panel discussions. The goal is to work towards unpacking privilege, building on support systems and confronting unseen biases. This conference aims to foster creative and pioneering social justice pedagogies at the University of Utah and hopes to have this reflected through workshops. The focus is to enrich the understanding of the community that people live in, so that people may work effectively and prosper together as a whole while retaining individual cultures and identities. C.O.D.E. aspires to welcome all and imagine limitless futures unbounded by the systems of forced realities, creating a space to nurture respect, dialogue and coalition building to educate and better our campus community.
“C.O.D.E. is a place for students to learn about topics that affect people’s daily lives that they won’t necessarily learn about in class. By attending C.O.D.E., students are able to confront firsthand the issues facing people and learn from the activists who are organizing around certain issues,” said Puneet Singh, the director of the Diversity Board for ASUU. “By doing this, not only do they learn about the issues that people are working on, but they also learn firsthand from the activists. It’s like being able to learn firsthand from Steven Spielberg about how to produce a movie.”
Previous keynote speakers have included Jessie Williams, Spike Lee and “The Three Doctors.”