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The Multicultural Center plans to host a range of diverse speakers and events throughout the 2016-2017 school year to educate students and cultivate conversations about relevant national issues. (VIA THE MULTICULTURAL CENTER ARCHIVE)

Multicultural Center to educate students by bringing diverse speakers and events that tackle national debates

The Multicultural Center will host programs centered on the presidential election, race relations and immigration for the upcoming school year

The Multicultural Center plans to start the school year with programs to make students of various backgrounds feel at home.

Winsome Chunnu-Brayda, the associate director of the Multicultural Center said events and speakers vary annually based on the goal of educating the audience on timely social and cultural issues occurring both globally and nationally.

“This upcoming year, the theme of our events will be immigration and race relations surrounding the election,” she said. “Every year we bring different speakers and programs which address current issues and tie them back into the national debates around them.”

Many annual events will be held to honor different ethnicities during specific commemorative months such as Hispanic Heritage Month from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15, Native American Heritage month in November and Black History Month in February. Keynote speakers for those events have not yet been announced.

The Multicultural Center will collaborate with Black Student Cultural Programming Board for the Blackburn Spencer Scholarship Pageant in October, film screenings and speeches during Martin Luther King Jr. Week, the Sibs Weekend concert in February and Mom’s Weekend Exposition in April.

The Multicultural Center will also work with the OHIO Alumni Association during the Black Alumni Reunion which occurs from Sept. 15-18. These reunions occur once every three years.

Chunnu-Brayda said the Multicultural Center has received verbal confirmation from many speakers but won’t release information on individuals until they sign written contracts.

Last academic year, the Multicultural Center hosted events such as a Pre-Kwanzaa Celebration and Kushinda/Ritos de Pasaje, which is a celebration of the multicultural undergraduate graduating class. Notable speakers who attended Ohio University included gay and Latino poet and activist Emanuel Xavier, Ojibwe professor Dr. Anton Treuer and Sachi Nakachi, an English professor who is Japanese.

In fall 2015, the Multicultural Center began the “How Are You Diverse” campaign, which encouraged students to write how they are diverse on a canvas inside the center and around Baker center, Billingslea said.

Jeffrey Billingslea, president of the Black Student Cultural Programming Board, said he hopes the Multicultural Center builds on that campaign in order to motivate students to embrace diversity.

“It was great to see community members share stories of their ethnic history, geographic location, sexual orientation, familial background and educational experiences,” Billingslea said of the events last year. “I look forward to seeing this initiative continue in the fall.”

Chunnu-Brayda said the center will continue to use speakers who come from many different backgrounds so they can relate to a larger spectrum of listeners.

“Many of our speakers address different audiences and aspects of issues,” she said. “We want our speakers to be able to relate to students, so they will have more of a desire to attend events.”

Morgan Matthews, a junior studying marketing, said she hopes more “non-black students” will become knowledgeable about the Multicultural Center in the upcoming year.

“I would like to see more cultures being represented (at the Multicultural Center), and not just African Americans,” she said. “It is surprising to me how many non-black students don't know the center even exists, let alone the events and organizations housed there.”

Chunnu-Brayda said she is excited for the possibility of students being empowered, more knowledgeable and engaged with what is going on around them.

“It will be an interesting, fun and informative year,” she said. “I hope students stay informed, get involved with organizations on campus and look at national issues through a different lens.”


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