Office of Communications ([email protected])

On March 1 and 2, Bates College hosts the second annual CBB Diversity Conference, a program of workshops, lectures and performances organized by the students of Colby, Bates and Bowdoin colleges. Titled “In Our Backyard: Embracing Diversity in Our Communities,” the event is free and open to the public.

The conference explores diversity in race, religion and sexuality. Presenters include Betsy Sweet, coordinator of curriculum development and training at the Center for the Prevention of Hate Violence, at the University of Southern Maine. Sweet makes the keynote speech at 10 a.m. March 2 in the Perry Atrium, Pettengill Hall.

The conference also includes panels with faculty from the three colleges, as well as presentations and performances by students and residents from the colleges’ host communities.

“The conference began last year when a group of Colby students thought that a dialogue about diversity needed to be sustained among the three campuses,” says Katie Burke, a Bates junior from Canton, Mass. “This year, we wanted an approach that included not only our campuses but the communities in which we live, and that looked more at ourselves and the world around us than at diversity as an object or some intangible idea.”

Among conference topics are Somali culture in Lewiston; sexuality on campus; the impact of college on students’ religious beliefs; race relations in schools; town-gown relations; and the effects of Sept. 11 on people of Muslim belief or Middle Eastern background.

The conference begins Friday evening with a drag show produced by the Bates advocacy group OUTfront in Chase Hall Lounge, Campus Avenue (7:30-9 p.m.), and a 9 p.m. gathering for poems and songs, sponsored by the Bates literary journal SEED, at the Ronj coffeehouse, Frye Street. Saturday’s activities begin with a reception in Perry Atrium at 9 a.m. and conclude with open-mic performances at the Ronj from 7 to 10 p.m.

Most conference activities take place in Pettengill Hall. For more information, please call 207-777-6781.