Latina feminist mental health activist Dior Vargas will visit campus to run a series of events on the intersection of race and mental health today. The Women of Color Coalition and Bear in Mind invited Vargas to Bowdoin in an effort to increase minority representation  in on-campus discussions about mental health. 

The day will feature two events open to the campus: a workshop with Vargas at 24 College Street from 4-5 p.m. and a keynote speech in Searles 315 at 7:30 p.m.

As a student leader of both the Women of Color Coalition and Bear in Mind, Alexis Espinal ’17 worked hard to bring Vargas to campus.

“A lot of the time, counseling and mental health will seem like a white thing, which affects a lot of people of color who struggle with mental health issues,” Espinal said. “They don’t necessarily feel comfortable getting help. They don’t have the right documents to get help. They don’t have enough money to get help. It’s a whole bunch of different aspects that play into mental health.”

A champion for LGBTQ rights, women’s rights and mental health rights and destigmatization, Vargas is a recipient of, among several other awards, the The White House Champion of Change for Disability Advocacy Across Generations award. Espinal searched for a speaker that could bring her two groups together, and found that through Vargas’s use of intersectionality, she could expand the conversation about race and mental health at Bowdoin.

“I decided to invite her because I feel this late trend at Bowdoin now has been about intersectionality,” said Espinal. “It’s been a lot of conversations about race, a lot of conversations about socioeconomic status, a lot of emphasis on how different identities play out and I think after this election it’s also something important to talk about.”

Other co-sponsors of the events are the psychology department, the Student Center for Multicultural Life, the Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity and the Women’s Resource Center.