by Kyla Parkins
Senior Ashton Skinner has taken on the role of Cultural Event Coordinator (CEC) for the 2014-2015 school year. Her job as CEC is three-fold, the first part involving events themselves.
“Basically, I’m in charge of bringing in a speaker, artist or performance group of a cultural nature and diverse opinion based on what students want and the student representation that we have,” Skinner said.
As far as events are concerned, students do have a say in what takes place. “A lot of people are passionate about something and they want to see it come to the surface. I’m a person to talk to for a lot of these things, whether it’s a conversation about race or a speaker from a certain identity. The ideas just come flooding into my email box,” Skinner said.
What events can Whitworth look forward to? On Sept. 25, Markie Hancock is speaking and playing a documentary film about LGBT students at Christian colleges.
“She went to school when it was a lot harder to be open about being a gay student so she talks a lot about her experiences. Plus, she shares the research she’s done since then about how these students have come to reconcile their faith, the education that they want to have at a small Christian university, and the Bible-based homophobia that comes with some negativity,” Skinner said. Hancock will be on campus for longer than the presentation so that students have the opportunity to connect with her.
On Oct. 2, Sister Outsider will be here.
“They’re the 2013-2014 winners of the Women of the World poetry slam competition. A lot of students want to see slam poets because it’s a Northwest culture and a lot of our student body is actually dabbling more in poetry performance,” Skinner said.
Skinner does more than just events. She also serves as a member of the ASWU assembly, speaking up on behalf of Whitworth’s diverse population.
“This includes students from any minority group or identity…I try to be the voice at the table who says, ‘This is who we’re forgetting,” Skinner said.
There are two other committees that Skinner serves on, the first being the Institutional Diversity Committee. That is an advisory committee to the office of the President.
“We try to make sure that all groups are represented fairly in the decisions that President Taylor and his office are making. We don’t have any actionable results from what we say, but President Taylor can act based on our recommendations,” Skinner said.
The last committee Skinner serves is the Multicultural Advocacy Council, which is an opportunity for club presidents and officers of diverse clubs to come together and support each other every month.
What makes the role of Cultural Events Coordinator important? “There are people who think, ‘Sure, I’m male, straight, Christian, white…I don’t have any diversity’. That’s not true. There are so many things that make people different and so many experiences that are unique to each individual in their time and place. It’s just so important to share those stories and to connect and learn from each other and to be more prepared as global citizens for graduation,” Skinner said.