Poetry slam champion to give speech on campus activism

Rudy Francisco will talk with students about social justice issues

Rudy Francisco will give a speech at 11 a.m. Saturday as a part of the Pacific Northwest Collegiate Leadership Conference.

Courtesy of WSU Student Involvement

Rudy Francisco will give a speech at 11 a.m. Saturday as a part of the Pacific Northwest Collegiate Leadership Conference.

ANNA YOUNG, Evergreen reporter

WSU will host the Pacific Northwest Collegiate Leadership Conference, with keynote speaker Rudy Francisco opening with his presentation at 11 a.m. this Saturday.

Francisco was the 2010 Individual World Poetry Slam champion. His spoken word poetry promotes social justice, activism and leadership. His presentation will be in conjunction with this year’s conference theme, Generation Activism.

“People could connect with him as a college student rather than looking up to him as an adult,” said Student Involvement Leadership Director Rhea Gonzaga. “You’re able to understand him more because of who he is.”

Gonzaga said Student Involvement choose Francisco because of his emphasis on activism, as well as his numerous views on YouTube and TED Talks.

His work deals with the various issues of social justice, as well as opening a dialogue about diversity.

The topics he covers in his poetry appealed to Gonzaga because of their relevance in everyday life.

“Due to all the events on campus, especially last year, I do feel like cultural competency and social justice are things we needed,” Gonzaga said.

Following Francisco’s presentation, participants can attend a series of three workshops of their choosing between noon and 3:40 p.m. The workshops will include facilitators from the WSU campuses, as well as guests from the area.

“I wanted this event to bring a lot of communities together,” Gonzaga said. “We’re bringing people into a setting to talk about issues they might not normally talk about, and to empower each other.”

She said the event could help students to get more invested in the world around them. With how busy students are, she said, it’s hard for them to think outside of their own life and schedule. She said she hopes that the conference can expand these bounds.

“It’s taking a step back and saying, ‘What do I want to advocate for?’ ” Gonzaga said.

Following the workshops, there will be closing remarks and a raffle. The conference is free for WSU Pullman students, $15 for other WSU students and $25 for non-WSU students. More information can be found on the WSU Student Involvement website.