Soetoro-Ng and MatsuiProfessor Maya Soetoro-Ng, left, and Congresswoman Doris Matsui.

As the seventh most diverse university west of the Mississippi, Sacramento State is working to further enhance its welcoming reputation with a series of events that will explore the diversity issue throughout the spring semester.

University President Robert S. Nelsen has taken every opportunity to express his commitment to bolstering campus diversity programs, most recently announcing the creation of a Diversity Office and a permanent Diversity Council consisting of students, faculty, and staff.

“We have an incredibly diverse campus, which makes us strong and enriches the experiences of everyone here at Sac State,” Nelsen says. “I hope that you will join me in attending as many of the upcoming events and lectures as you are able.”

This semester’s diversity activities include:

  • Friday, Feb. 5: Documented, the movie about Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Jose Antonio Vargas, who outed himself as an undocumented immigrant. The film chronicles his journey to America from the Philippines, and his journey inward as he reconnects with his mother, whom he had not seen in 20 years. The screening will be held 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the University Union Ballroom and includes a panel discussion.
  • Wednesday, Feb. 10: A lecture by Jennicet Gutiérrez, a transgender Latina activist and organizer from Mexico. Gutiérrez is best known for revealing the plight of transgender women in immigration detention centers. The presentation will take place 3 to 4:15 p.m. at the University Union, Foothill Suite.
  • Friday, Feb. 19: “Hysteria, Racism, Politics: Parallels Between the WWII Japanese American Internment and Attitudes Toward the Muslim Community.” Congresswoman Doris Matsui will be the keynote speaker on the need for political leadership at this forum that will examine the similarities between present day anti-Muslim rhetoric and a dark period in U.S. history 70 years ago. A Q&A with Congresswoman Matsui will immediately follow, as well as a panel discussion by community and campus leaders. Scheduled panelists include: Marielle Tsukamoto, a retired teacher and principal from Elk Grove who is well known for her work in educating the public about the Japanese American experience and their forced incarceration during WWII; Basim Elkarra, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Sacramento; and Ahlam Abdul Rahman, a Sacramento State graduate student in the English Department. The event will take place in the Harper Alumni Center, with a reception from 4 to 5 p.m., the keynote address from 5 to 5:45 p.m., and the panel from 6 to 7 p.m.
  • Thursday, Feb. 25: Maya Soetoro-Ng, President Obama’s half-sister, will present a lecture, followed by a Q&A. Soetoro-Ng is the director of Community Outreach and Global Learning for the University of Hawaii’s Spark M. Matsunaga Institute for Peace & Conflict Resolution. She will speak about “Leadership and Conflict Resolution,” 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Leslie and Anita Harper Alumni Center.
  • Tuesday, March 8: Cesar Chavez, a movie about the union organizer’s life and legacy, will be screened at the University Union’s Hinde Auditorium beginning at 5 p.m. Chavez was a co-founder of the United Farm Workers, and the movie showcases his passion and commitment to social justice. Following the movie is a discussion led by Duane Campbell and Dolores Campbell, co-chairs of the UFW boycott committee in Sacramento.
  • Wednesday, March 16: Yolo County Superior Court Judge Sonia Cortes will speak from 3 to 4:15 p.m. at the Terrace Suite of The WELL. Judge Cortes will talk about her journey as the daughter of farm workers living in public housing to becoming the first Latina appointed to the Yolo County bench.
  • Monday, May 2: “Celebrating Diversity,” a daylong showcase of the many student clubs that celebrate cultural pride and awareness to make Sacramento State the welcoming campus it is. The event will be held at the Library Quad, and is sponsored by the ASI Diversity Work Team.

For more information about all the great programs and events at Sacramento State, visit For media assistance, call the University’s Public Affairs office at (916) 278-6156. – Craig Koscho