Holocaust survivor and social activist Ben Stern will be the keynote speaker at the 16th annual Change of the Status Quo: A Social Justice Conference Feb. 16-17.
The half-hour documentary film “Near Normal Man,” created by Stern’s daughter and filmmaker Charlene Stern, will be shown in the Julian A. McPhee University Union, room 220 at 6 p.m. Feb. 16. The screening will be followed with a Q&A from Charlene Stern.
The film tells the story of Polish Jew Ben Stern’s experience living through the Holocaust— surviving two ghettos, nine concentration camps and two death marches. The documentary also details his activist work in the 1970s.
Ben Stern will talk about hate speech and the First Amendment Feb. 17 at 9 a.m. in Chumash Auditorium. Center for Service in Action Coordinator Megan Rivoire said Stern will talk about standing up to hate speech.
“The general theme that we are thinking Ben will help kick off is ‘Is it always worth it to stand up? Is it always worth something?’” Rivoire said. “Especially when it comes to hate speech and how to respond when that comes up.”
Multiple workshops on different topics will be held by community experts throughout the day. The topics on activism and leadership, race and diversity, gender and sexuality, education, stigmatization and social change. The center for Service in Action expects about 200 students to attend, according to Rivoire.
“The world is not perfect and there are so many issues. We are hoping to educate students and give them the tools and resources to do something about it,” Rivoire said.
Presenters for the workshops will include San Luis Obispo Mayor Heidi Harmon, representatives from NAACP San Luis Obispo County, Cal Poly Cross Cultural Centers, Women’s March San Luis Obispo, Cal Poly Dream Center and UndocuAlly Working Group.
CAPSLO Teen Sexual Health Empowerment Program is holding a workshop called, “When you hear #MeToo, will you stand up to say #NoMore?” The workshop will address consent and have people reflect on their own experiences, according to Charley Newel, CAPSLO sex educator.
“Sex is such a heavily stigmatized topic in our society and this is going to take a crack at addressing a lot of that stigma,” Newel said.
Preregistration is $15 for students and $20 for staff, faculty, and community members. Ticket prices at the door will be an additional $5. The ticket includes all speakers and workshops, as well as a zero-waste breakfast and lunch.