HRL conference tackles gender, language

Katherine Wade

Students are invited to step outside the box at the “Check Your Box” Language and Gender Conference on Friday.

The conference, sponsored by Housing and Residence Life, aims to explore language and gender issues that are relevant to students.

Peggy Crowe, assistant director of HRL, said in the past HRL has hosted two separate conferences, one for men and one for women. This year they are combining the two.

“We decided to encourage cross-gender dialogue and push students to engage in discussions about topics that they probably think about but may not engage in regularly or on their own,” she said.

The conference will take place at 3 p.m. Friday in Downing University Center and will be broken up into four sessions: Gender in the Media, Gender and Spirituality, Gender and the Workplace and Gender and Self-Image. The sessions will begin at 3:30 p.m. and will be followed by dinner at 7 p.m. Participants can sign up for two of the four sessions.

All of the sessions are presented by WKU faculty or staff.

Karl Laves, assistant director for the Counseling and Testing Center, will be facilitating the Gender and Self-Image session.

He said they plan to talk about reasons people tend to deny or ignore their own sense of who they are in favor of others’ opinions.

“We’re all vulnerable to not giving ourselves enough credit,” he said. “All of us get misled from time to time on what is important and what isn’t.”

Laves said he hopes students who attend the conference will get a better idea of why it is natural and healthy to not always be like other people.

Marybeth Burnett, hall director for Gilbert Hall, said the presenters are there to guide conversations and answer any questions the students may have.

Students must register to attend the conference on HRL’s website. Crowe said so far 75 students have registered, and everyone who registers will receive dinner, a T-shirt, a mug and most importantly, valuable knowledge.

“As a result of attending … students will develop awareness, knowledge and skills in the area of multiculturalism,” she said.

Burnett said HRL would like to continue hosting the conference in the future and eventually invite students from other universities as well.

“I hope students will walk away with a better understanding of how they fit into the grand scheme of things,” she said. “But also how they fit in here on Western’s campus.”