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March 17, 2011

CONTACT: K.E. Schwab




SRU ‘Diversity and Democracy’ series begins Monday


SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. – Slippery Rock University will promote “Diversity and Democracy” March 21-23 with a series of lectures and panel discussions, including three keynote addresses designed to encourage discussion and understanding.

           The keynotes will be presented by:

·      Rohan Murphy, a motivational speaker born with a rare birth defect that resulted in the amputation of both legs at age 4;

·      JiyHann Change, professor of psychology and a clinical psychologist at East Stroudsburg University, and;

·      Brian Sims, a lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender advocate and policy attorney.

     Nearly 30 other lectures, workshops and presentations are planned as part of the program. All sessions are in the University Union.

           The opening day’s program will run 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Programs March 22 run 8:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., and the March 23 programs are 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.

           Murphy’s “Rohan Murphy: No legs, No problem!” address is at 1 p.m. He will discuss how he began wrestling as a freshman in high school, then went on to wrestle at Penn State University. He has been featured on the national news, in Sports Illustrated, and in his own Nike commercial. His address will focus on his story of adversity and living life with a purpose.

           The 9 a.m. opening will give participants the chance to meet members of the SRU President’s Commissions on Disability, LGBTQI, Race and Ethnic Diversity and the Status of Women.

           Jessamine Montero, SRU’s senior officer for diversity and inclusion and program organizer, along with members of the various commissions, will offer brief presentations.

           SRU’s Student Union for Multicultural Affairs will present “Red Ribbon Monologues,” an interactive program dealing with such issues as AIDS/HIV through real-life monologues, at 10 a.m.

           Lorraine Stubbs, assistant director of SRU’s Center for Involvement and Leadership, and Corinne Gibson, director of the Office of Multicultural Development will present “Terminology of Racial and Ethnic Diversity, a session designed to help participants understand the importance of using respectful and inclusive language in respect to race and ethnicity. As co-chairs of the President’s Commission on Race and Ethnic Diversity, they will illustrate ways language hurts, even when there is no malicious intent.

           Wendy Fagan, an instructor in exercise and rehabilitative sciences, and several undergraduate and graduate students will present “Understanding Disability” at 1 p.m. The session will allow participants to experience disabilities through simulations, including use of a wheelchair and being blindfolded.

           Jodi Solito, director of the SRU Women’s Center and Ashley Christ, a graduate assistant at the center, will present “The F Word,” explaining what feminism is and why some people are afraid of it, at 2 p.m.

           Rabbi Martin Shorr and members of Moslem, Hindu, Catholic and Protestant faiths will offer “The Outsider: Religious Views of Non-believers” at 3 p.m.

           Representatives from RockOut will form a panel of LGBTQIA individuals to offer “Straight Talk,” explaining their decisions to announce they were gay at 3 p.m.

           Jon Anning, assistant professor of exercise and rehabilitative science, will offer “Anatomical Foundations of RESPECT,” at 4 p.m. The lecture will challenge participants to think about the evidence provided about the human body and determine if everyone in the human race deserves respect.

           “Portraits of a Family,” a solo presentation telling the story of what it means to live in a mixed-race family brought together through adoption, will be presented at 7 p.m. by Sarah Carleton and Co.

           March 22 programs open with “Safe Zone Training,” with pre-registration required through SRU’s Office of Human Resources. The training will be offered at 8:30 a.m. by Catherine Massey, associate professor of psychology, and Patrick Beswick, associate director of residence life, both are co-chairs of the LGBTQI Commission, and Colleen Cooke, associate professor of parks, recreation and environmental education, co-chair of the Disabilities Commission.

           The training includes instruction on the effects of oppression, misconceptions of homosexuality, and provides a detailed review of sexual identity development.

           Jim Kramer, a therapeutic recreation major from Butler and a member of the Disabilities Commission, and other SRU student representatives will present “My Story” at 9:30 a.m. The session will allow students to reveal some of the challenges they have faced and overcome.

           Cooke and faculty from the parks, recreation and environmental education department will help workshop participants understand the importance of using respectful and inclusive language in respect to individuals with disabilities at the “Enabling Terminology: Words Hurt” session at 11 a.m.

           Jyh-Hann Chang, assistant professor and clinical psychologist at East Stroudsburg University, will be the March 22 keynote speaker with a 12:30 p.m. address titled “Living Like A Weed” and a 2 p.m. address titled “Changing Attitudes toward Individuals with Physical Disabilities.”

           Chang is board certified in rehabilitation psychology and sports psychology and has worked with the National Football League, National Basketball League and collegiate athletes. He has presented at both national and international conferences on topics affecting attitudes toward people with disabilities. In addition, he has published myriads of articles on related topics and has worked to enhance career opportunities for people with disabilities.

           He is a recipient of a National Science Foundation grant, three Christopher Reeve grants and an American Psychological Association’s Center for Ethnic Minority Recruitment and Retention Task Force Grant.

           At age 19, Chang suffered a surfing accident that rendered him a tetraplegic. He combines his expertise as a clinical psychologist and his own personal experience to enhance his academic and professional careers. His students have nominated him seven times as ESU’s Most Inspirational Teacher.

           He will be available for a pre-lecture discussion session in Room 207 of the University Union from 11 a.m. to noon.

           Ashley Locke, a life skills tutor at Hiram G. Andrews, and Myra Balok, assistant professor of English, will present “Accommodations for Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Students in the University Classroom” at 2 and 3:30 p.m.

           A “Disability Pride Panel” is planned for 7:30 p.m., in Room 204 of the University Union. The panel will raise awareness of disability issues. Pennsylvania Youth Leadership Network board members will participate.

           March 23 programs open with “Silent Witness” training at 10 a.m. The session will be presented by the Silent Witness Peacekeepers Alliance an organization of gay and straight allies dedicated to providing a non-confrontational buffer between the lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender community and those who would protest LGBT events.

           Brian Sims, captain of the 2000 Bloomsburg University football team, who announced he was gay and is now a LGBT advocate and policy attorney in Philadelphia, will be the keynote speaker for the noon “LGBT Athletes and Allies Leadership and Policy” address and the 1 p.m. “Building Allies for the LGBTQ Community” session.

           Sims has been featured in numerous newspapers across the country and is the staff counsel for policy and planning with the Philadelphia Bar Association.

           Jennifer Sanftner, SRU associate professor of psychology, and co-chair of the Status of Women Commission, and Rebecca Benz, a psychology major from Mars, Pa., and Brianna Glassmyer, an exercise science major from Telford, will present “Improving Body Image in Women at SRU: The Reflections Body Image Program” at 2 p.m. The session will increase awareness and empowerment about body-related issues in women.

           Jered Kolbert, SRU professor in counseling and development, and a member of Race and Ethnic Diversity Commission, will present “Racial Identity Development” at 3 p.m., and “White Identity Development” at 4 p.m.

           William Boggs, SU professor of English, will lead the “Clashing Cultures: The First-Generation Student and the University” at 5 p.m. The session will explore the needs of first-generation students entering the University from the perspective of Working Class Studies.

           Nancy Schwartzman, a filmmaker, writer, activist and director and producer of documentary films, will present “The Line” at 6 p.m. The film is a 24-minute documentary about a young woman (the filmmaker) who is raped, but her story isn’t cut and dry.

           Schwartzman runs a group blog at “Where is Your Line?” as a part of a multimedia campaign to promote sex-positive dialogue about relationships, sex and consent.

           She has been featured in The New York Times, Feministing, Ms. Magazine and others.

           Jordan Burnham, a 19-year-old who has a history of depression and is a member of Active Minds, will preset “Life After the Fall: A Survivor’s Story” as the last session of the series at 7:30 p.m.

           Last year, Burnham tried to commit suicide by jumping out of a ninth-story window. After falling more than 100 feet, he survived and now is trying to make a positive change. Today, after all his injuries have healed, he says feels fortunate to be alive and travels to various middle schools and high schools talking with students about his mental disorder, depression.

           A chart showing all of the programs is available at: N D Schedule.pdf.


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