Students can make OU a comfortable home with support from centers and programs to meet new people.
When students arrive at college, the adjustment can be difficult, especially if one identifies as a minority. Fortunately for students at Ohio University, inclusive centers and programs are available to help create connections.
Located on the second floor of Baker University Center, the Multicultural Center supports many programs, such as conversations on inclusion, and creates a safe space to educate students about diversity.
“Students say they feel at home in the Multicultural Center because it’s a space where they interact with people who share a lot of the same values, a lot of the same likes in terms of culture, food and music,” said Winsome Chunnu-Brayda, associate director of the Multicultural Center. “Fundamentally, this is a warm, welcoming, open space for all students.”
The center is a space where multicultural organizations meet as well, Chunnu-Brayda said.
The LGBT Center is located on the third floor of Baker and, like the Multicultural Center, it is another space to call home and to feel accepted.
“We work really hard to make this a safe space for people with any identity,” said Emma Holman-Smith, community coordinator for the LGBT Center. “There’s a lot of great people in here. Regardless of who you are, you can come in and get something out of the center.”
The center provides a space for anyone to walk in and start a conversation, said Stefan Koob, communication coordinator for the LGBT Center.
“There are cool people here. All my friends come here because all my friends are queer,” Koob, a sophomore studying women’s, gender and sexuality studies, said. “We’re very accepting of a lot of people — pretty much everyone.”
Holman-Smith, a senior studying mathematics and Russian, said the center has a great mix of educational and social events. The center has its own library and hosts movie nights.
“People come in, hang out, do homework, play video games,” she said. “The people who are constantly in (the center) try and challenge each other and evaluate our own various types of privilege.”
International students begin college with the obstacles any American student encounters, but they must also learn English and adjust to a foreign country, which Mustafa Aydogan, who is from Turkey, said is quite difficult.
Aydogan, a graduate student in clinical and mental health counseling, is the president of the Turkish Student Association. International students typically join similar organizations where they can express their own cultures and showcase them to American students.
“It’s a great experience to meet people from other countries — even people from places right next to mine,” said Taghi Sahraeian, a Ph. D student studying chemistry who is from Iran. “It was really amazing for me.”
The ways Sahraeian said he met new people were by joining programs and participating in events like the indoor soccer league at OU.
In addition, international students also face many cultural differences.
“An American might have biases against someone’s culture. Of course, before I came here I had a lot of weird questions to ask Americans too,” Aydogan said. “But, if you took the chance to meet someone international and ask questions, those biases would probably go away. ”