EastBay Today

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Posted September 20, 2017

Fall Convocation

Staff, faculty kick off 2017-18 school year with annual event focused on diversity, inclusion

President Leroy M. Morishita called upon the university community to stand united in support of its diverse student body during his annual fall convocation speech.
GARVIN TSO

Standing together against hate speech and celebrating Cal State East Bay’s diverse, record-setting student body enrollment of 16,000, the university’s staff and faculty officially opened the 2017-18 school year Monday.

The annual fall convocation included speeches from President Leroy M. Morishita, Provost Ed Inch, Academic Senate Chair Mark Karplus and incoming Associated Students Inc. President Samantha Quiambao.

Each of the morning’s speakers highlighted Cal State East Bay’s diversity and inclusion efforts and emphasized the need to provide a safe and respectful place for all students to learn, but one that also challenges them to fight back against hate.

“We are all in this together,” Karplus said, while introducing an ancient Greek word to the audience —Parrhesia, meaning “fearless speech.”

“Talking about diversity and inclusion is not enough, we need to address the rise of racism and exclusion in our society,” he said.

Quiambao outlined her plans for the year, explaining her staff will be advocating on behalf of all students, particularly those who are part of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, and also working to create a pipeline for new students to engage with ASI through first-year internships.

Inch encouraged the audience to remember that every interaction with students on campus has the potential to impact and shape what they do after graduation. He said he would like to see the campus band together to address the hateful and discriminatory rhetoric currently being pushed by the federal administration.

“The answer to hate speech is not more hate speech,” Inch said. “The answer is good speech, and reason based on values and ethical principles … each one of us can be a difference-maker.”

Finally, Morishita welcomed the group and highlighted the 27 new faculty members joining Cal State East Bay this quarter, while reminding the audience that this convocation will be the last before the work of semester conversion is complete.

But his comments were also driven by the national climate and events surrounding free speech, and recent policy changes from the federal government. After sharing a series of stories about the opportunities Cal State East Bay has afforded its alumni, Morishita called upon the university community to stand united in support of its diverse student body.

“I am proud that Cal State East Bay maintains a student diversity that reflects, if not outpaces, our region,” he said. “Our student body maintains its diversity in part because students, staff and faculty have maintained a remarkable capacity to look after and take care of one another. Now, more than ever, our university is called upon to model how a tolerant, inclusive and just society can succeed and thrive.”