SGA partners with CSUB for annual conference

James Macias, Features Editor

The second annual Student Leadership Conference organized by the Bakersfield College Student Government Association in cooperation with the CSUB student union was held in the multi-purpose room of the student union building at CSUB on Oct. 28.

The five-hour event was extremely interactive and not meant for a group much larger than 100.

The primary speakers (Victoria Chan and Angel Garcia) are not delivering speeches so much as they are engaging the entire audience in a very personal, oft-times extremely animated conversation.

Only the first 100 registered students were given the opportunity to pick up a name tag at the reception desk.

The conference was presided over by one Captain Angel Garcia, 36, of Fort Knox, Kentucky, which is the garrison protecting the national vault.

Garcia is a member of the U.S. Army currently serving active duty.

Captain Garcia’s co-presider was Victoria Chan, 26, of Atlanta.

During the transitions between the presentation’s various segments, Chan regaled the audience with a series of light anecdotes from her life.

Most notably, she shared about working for movie star Jackie Chan as his personal assistant directly out of college and finding the courage to talk to her illustrious new boss about racism.

The name of this year’s conference was Elephants and Onions.

“The reason we call it elephants and onions is because we are trying to call out that elephant in the room and get people to express what they really feel about it,” Garcia said.

“And then onions are like when I talk about ‘showing up’ and what are you thinking as your ‘showing up’ it’s about peeling back those layers of, you know, how you identify others. Just really tearing away at those layers to get to the root cause of why we think the way that we think, with respect to how others are and how we create this reality of ours,” he said.

Fitzgerald Graves, 40, SGA senator, was on hand to participate in the conference and gave a short presentation.

“These activities reminded me that we may come across challenges or situations where our view and our perspective may not be welcomed or accepted yet that does not minimize the respect or dignity that one is entitled to,” Graves said.

Nicky Damania, BC director of student life, was called upon to bring the forum to a close. Damania presented a slide show depicting the events of this past year, from the shootings in Florida and San Bernardino, to the Black Lives Matter movement, and the Dresden mosque bombing in Germany.

“This is our summer of 2016. That’s what we have just been through. How are we going to represent? You are all student leaders of your niche communities. How do we pull together to strengthen our full community? We need to take the next step. No one is going to do it for us. Coming to this conference is the first step, but what you do afterwards will make a stronger leader and you will then participate in defining our society. We are here to represent each other. We communicate through our voices and that communication makes actions. Learning about social justice isn’t just about memorizing the material, it’s about translating that back to our own communities and helping our society move forward. We can’t just brush off the wrongs in our lives, we must take action. We must take responsibility for educating others to understand,” Damania said.