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A black pole designating a safe path for disabled persons sits in College Green on Monday, April 6, 2015. 

Multicultural Center to celebrate heritage months, ADA this fall

The Multicultural Centers gears up for the fall with new events on heritage months along with the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act

A goal of Ohio University’s Multicultural Center is to start conversations about diversity at Ohio University, and this year is no different.

For the fall semester, the Multicultural Center is basing its themes around heritage months, such as Hispanic Heritage Month, which starts in mid-September, and Native American Heritage Month in November.

“We had great feedback from our programming last year,” said Winsome Chunnu-Brayda, associate director of the Multicultural Center.

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The feedback, she said, was geared particularly toward last year’s Native American Heritage speaker, Anton Treuer, who spoke about why it’s important to ban Native American-inspired mascots for sports teams — after the scandal with the Washington Redskins’ mascot and trademark.

“It was such a big hit,” Chunnu-Brayda said. “(Treuer) is coming back.”

When Treuer returns in November, he will discuss his book, Everything You Wanted to Know About Indians But Were Afraid to Ask. He will explain why Native Americans don’t celebrate Thanksgiving and the Native American heritage.

For Hispanic Heritage Month and LGBT History Month in October, Emanuel Xavier will speak at OU Oct. 14, Chunnu-Brayda said. There will be a reception to celebrate the heritage month at 12p.m., on Sept. 17 during Acoustic Café, which will feature a steel drum playing merengue music.

Along with celebrating racial diversity, the Multicultural Center is honoring the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

“We are launching a hip-hop event to commemorate the anniversary,” Chunnu-Brayda said. “We are highlighting a group coming out of Cleveland called Dancing Wheels.”

The center is bringing the Dancing Wheels Company, which features performers with and without disabilities, to perform in mid-October. Athens Mayor Paul Wiehl and OU President Roderick McDavis will attend the show, Chunnu-Brayda said.

The Black Student Cultural Programming Board often works with the Multicultural Center for social events, such as rap artist Waka Flocka Flame. This year, BSCPB is partnering with the center to bring Treuer back and hold the ADA celebration.

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Jeffrey Billingslea, the president of BSCPB, said when BSCPB books events, it looks at cultural and educational events that students will want to attend. Much of the organization’s planning comes from students’ suggestions via social media.

Last year, Chunnu-Brayda said the Multicultural Center’s event about HIV and AIDS was one of its lowest in attendance, but that does not mean they will stop the annual program.

“We don’t usually gauge (low attendance) as not working, but we take into account there’s other big speakers, or a basketball game,” she said. “Also HIV is a hard topic, but it doesn’t mean we’re not going to talk about it.”

The center also hired Alicia Chavira-Prado, a special assistant to Shari Clarke, the vice provost to the Office for Diversity and Inclusion. Chavira-Prado started her position July 6 and is a former coordinator of the Southern Illinois University Office of Diversity and Equity.

“Our goal is always to make sure that we’re educating the Athens community, and our students as well what is going on nationally through our programming,” Chunnu-Brayda said. “We need to make sure our students know what’s going on with issues. We’re bringing speakers that are timely socially, politically and culturally.”


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