RISE to hold annual spring symposium

The Southwest is an increasingly diverse region facing increasingly changing and controversial immigration laws. The University of Colorado graduate student group Racial Initiatives for Students and Educators (RISE) hopes to tackle these issues in Friday’s spring symposium.

This year’s topic is “Bridging Borders: Overcoming Oppression Through Solidarity.” The event runs from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. in the Wittemyer Courtroom in CU’s Wolf Law Building.

Since 2009, RISE has worked to learn about and raise awareness for issues of social justice and education. Every spring, they invite speakers from a wide array of educational subjects from across the nation to their symposium.

The event will include two panels, two breakout sessions and a keynote speech by Dr. Carol Lee (past president, National Conference on Research in Language and Literacy; professor, Northwestern). Other speakers include Drs. Arturo Aldama (editor, Enduring Legacies: Colorado Ethnic Histories and Cultures; professor, CU-Boulder), Julio Cammarota (director, Social Justice Education Project; associate professor, Arizona) and Erica Meiners (co-author, Visibility Matters, the first LGBTQ audit of teacher education programs in the U.S.; professor, Northeastern Illinois).

Ruth López, a RISE coordinating committee member, said interdisciplinary cooperation is key to discussing issues of social justice and race. López said the field of ethnic studies and professors like Dr. Aldama are helpful tools to learning more about race and equity.

“Thinking about how race might be a component of what we work on is something we always keep in mind,” López said.

RISE uses this idea when thinking of symposium topics, like this year’s “Bridging Borders” theme. López said the group tries to think of topics it’s interested in that are particularly relevant to issues of race and education. Last year, the group chose to address achievement gap. This year, anti-immigrant policies in Arizona and other states influenced the symposium’s topic.

Rebecca Beucher, an organizing board member for RISE, said that while these anti-immigration laws might not seem to be directly correlated to the field of education, they really play a large role.

“Anti-immigration legislation sends a message to youth and their families about who does and does not belong in the United States, and this has a direct impact on youth’s personal and academic experiences in school,” Beucher said.

She added that these laws also influence attempts to remove ethnic studies programs and overhaul curricula. Beucher said educators must understand what youth face outside of school and fight against practices that create educational disparities.

With the symposium, RISE members hope to reach out to undergraduates and others in the community to create a discussion that isn’t just for their fellow graduate students at CU, but for everyone.

“The hope here is that people will leave feeling inspired to continue the good work they may already be doing and also empowered to perhaps work differently through these new relationships they have forged,” Beucher said. “For those who are new to this work, I hope that people will become inspired to become more actively involved in the work of disrupting and crossing these borders.”

By Marlee Horn for the Colorado Daily

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