A number of hot button issues, including LGBTQ equality and the Syrian refugee crisis, will be up for discussion at The University of Tampa’s fifth annual Human Rights Day Conference on Saturday, April 23. Conference attendees will investigate and celebrate human rights through panels, presentations and creative works from UT faculty and students as well as outside speakers.

Image/UT Facebook
Image/UT Facebook

The event will run from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on the ninth floor of the Vaughn Center and is free and open to the public.

The keynote speaker for the conference is Jamil Dakwar, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Human Rights Program in Washington, D.C. Dakwar will speak on “Human Rights in the Age of Obama” at noon.

During sessions scheduled throughout the day, a wide variety of topics will be explored, including LGBTQ equality, free movement rights in Europe, the educational rights of individuals with disabilities, criminal justice reform, human trafficking, disparities in health care, resettlement of refugees and more. For a full schedule of events, go to www.ut.edu/humanrightsday.

The conference will close with a viewing of the PBS documentary Rape in the Fields, followed by a discussion of the film moderated by Marcus Arvan, UT assistant professor of philosophy, at 5 p.m.

Two additional events are planned for the days leading into the conference.

On Thursday, April 21, will be a screening of the award-winning documentary Escaping Syria, which chronicles the daily struggles of four Syrian refugee families. The screening will be followed by a panel discussion with the film’s executive producer, Cathe Neukum, two Tampa Bay area social service providers, Magda Elkadi Saleh and Amira Salama, and former Vietnamese refugee and Tarpon Springs police officer, Tommy Nguyen. The screening begins at 4 p.m. in the Reeves Theater on the second floor of the Vaughn Center.

On Friday, April 22, artist and activist Molly Gochman will bring her Red Sand Project to UT. During the event, participants fill a sidewalk crack with red sand, representing those who fall through the metaphorical cracks into human trafficking, and share their contribution on social media using #RedSandProject. The event is scheduled for 9:30 a.m.–1 p.m. in the Vaughn Center Lobby and Courtyard.

The conference is organized by Bruce Friesen and Marcus Arvan of the Human Rights Think Tank (humanrightstt.webs.com), and is sponsored by the UNA-USA Tampa Bay, the College of Social Sciences, Mathematics and Education, the Department of Philosophy and Religion, and the Honors Program.

For more information, go to www.ut.edu/humanrightsday or contact Friesen at [email protected] or (813) 257-3464, or Arvan at [email protected] or (813) 257-3674.