Multicultural student organizations unite, reflect on experiences of minority students
Several multicultural student organizations united to host an educational discussion about minority students' experiences at Central Michigan University.
The event titled "Let’s Talk: Experiences of a Student of Color on a PWI Campus," was held in the Bovee University Center auditorium on Nov. 20, with PWI standing for "predominately white institution."
The event was held in response to incidents of racism on campus, including racial slurs that were written on a whiteboard in Sweeney Residence Hall on Nov. 7 and white nationalist posters that were recently posted across Central Michigan University's campus.
"Let’s Talk: Experiences of a Student of Color on a PWI Campus" was a collaboration between the National Pan-Hellenic Council, NAACP, Black Student Union, Student Government Association Diversity Committee, A Mile in Our Shoes, Have Your Point Expressed and Collective Action for Cultural Unity.
The topics discussed included micro and macro-aggressions, racism and how people can educate themselves and others about other cultures.
CMU professor and keynote speaker for the event, Sara Moslener, spoke to those in attendance about how racism works.
“Racism, unfortunately, is not just an incident -- it is a toxic gas that we are all breathing,” Moslener said. “Some of us know very acutely what it feels like to breathe in that gas because it impacts us emotionally and physically and some of us say what’s the problem, the air’s just fine."
What Moslener meant is that racism is systemic problem that is ingrained in American society and that certain people experience it daily while others don't experience it at all.
Moslener also touched on micro-aggressions and how they affect people. She said that micro-aggressions are a very concise way to demonstrate both race-based prejudice and race-based power in seemingly insignificant ways.
One of the event’s highlights was the Q&A portion at the end that allowed students in attendance and those hosting the event to share their experiences and talk about ways in which society can improve how it handles race.
Something that was continuously stressed throughout the event was the importance of being educated on different cultures.
Romulus junior Moe’Nai Robinson said she hopes that those who attended walk away with more cultural awareness.
“I really hope people took away knowledge because we had many students asking many really good questions,” Robinson said.
Robinson also expressed her desire for people to take what they learned at the event and share it with their friends.
During the event, it was announced that a black caucus will be created to operate as a liaison for the black community at CMU. It will include representatives from several multicultural organizations who will discuss issues pertaining to the black community.
Grand Rapids junior Australyah Coleman said she has been working with the CMU administration to help make change on campus, including requiring incoming freshman take a cultural competency course. Coleman said that she would like to see CMU continue to support its students on issues regarding race.
“I just hope that we continue to have support from the faculty and the administration and the staff because that really shows a lot,” Coleman said. “If we know that we have the support of our leaders on campus, that’ll help us move forward as a community.”
Coleman also said that she wants to see CMU continue to make diversity one of its main priorities.
"Central Michigan prides itself on inclusion and diversity and I hope that we can uphold that in years to come because I know we're kind of struggling with that now," Coleman said.