In room C130, on Feb 22, the Bellevue College Associated Student Government hosted “What if____,?” an event in which three speakers presented on micro-aggressions, gender and sexuality. The event was organized by Abner Pagunuran, ASG vice president of Student Affairs and Pluralism. The event was originally scheduled to be held over three days, from Feb. 21 to Feb. 23.
However, on Feb. 21 presentations were canceled because all three planned speakers did not show up to the event.
The cancelled presentations were scheduled to be on Black Lives Matter, Islam and sustainability. Presentations were also cancelled Feb. 23 because the ASG was unable to secure rooms to present in. The process of planning these presentations took a full month.
The talks each lasted about twenty minutes and speakers fielded questions after their presentations. Food and beverages were provided at the event. Pagunuran was the first speaker and presented on micro-aggressions.
Pagunuran explained how micro-aggressions are small comments people sometimes subconsciously say that hint at prejudices and stereotyping.
“It comes down to if you are truly being genuine with your intentions. We are very much in control of what we say and what we do but we are not in control of the way people perceive things. If you are genuinely curious you can be open and honest about that, but do not assume. You don’t want people to assume, so articulation is very important,” Pagunaran said in response to students voicing concerns about the line between innocent questions and micro-aggressions.
The second and third presentations were on gender, including a discussion on respecting people’s individual gender identity, pronoun use and sexuality. To find speakers, Pagunaran sent out messages to several clubs around Bellevue College, including the Black Student Union, the LGBTQ+ Resource Center and the Office of Sustainability looking for students who would be interested in speaking. From here, members of clubs reached out to other students who may have been interested and and linked those students back to Pagunaran.
“Initially, I wanted to hire members from outside of Bellevue College. However, I realized that there were a number of students that were knowledgeable on these topics and that it might be more impactful to have students speak on these issues. After notifying advisors for the various programs, I selected these students, a number of which I have seen give presentations or speak on in the past on said issues.” said Pagunaran.
Pagunaran requested that speakers send him the presentations beforehand to review and provide advice.
According to Pagunaran, it can be hard for people to learn about issues that affect minorities if you do not belong to that minority group. “There are many issues that people may not know about and this event creates a safe space for people to come learn and feel free to have a conversation. The aim is for people to get a chance to learn about groups and movements that exist within Bellevue College and the greater community and to ask questions and hold an open dialogue about said topics. I really just want this to be a learning experience for everyone involved,” said Pagunaran.