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Getting involved makes CMU a more inclusive campus

The CMU seal sits in front of Warriner Hall Jan. 8.

Whether you come from a big city or tiny town, college life can be a complete one-eighty.

As a service to its students, Central Michigan University carries a responsibility to make campus as inclusive as possible by providing representation for all identities.

Students and staff said the best way to accomplish this is through involvement, education and empathy.

Director of Diversity Education Nikita Murry said students who get involved on campus are able to build relationships with people from diverse backgrounds. This, in turn, will create empathy and a more welcoming place for everyone.

“That’s why we do the programs that we do,” Murry said. “That’s why we have some of the initiatives that we have, because we want to make sure that our campus culture is one where everybody can see themselves.”

There are multiple offices and programs that work within diversity, equity and inclusion. All of which can be found just by searching “diversity” on CMU’s website.

However, progress is still being made - and it’s most often students leading the charge.

The Multicultural Advancement Scholarship and Lloyd M. Cofer (MAC) Scholarship, for example, are given to excellent students who are dedicated to enhancing diversity.

Lansing alumni and Spring 2021 graduate Alejandro Salais was one recipient of the Multicultural Award of Distinction - a full ride scholarship. Salais said an important part of his time at CMU was taking advantage of opportunities like the MAC Scholar program, which helped him to promote diversity to other students.

“MAC Scholars have the nickname of being diversity champions,” Salais said. “What does that mean? To me, that means celebrating individual identity, educating myself on other cultures and informing others on the importance of diversity, and so I did that.”

Salais also placed value on involvements like study abroad and Sigma Lambda Beta, a Latino based fraternity with multicultural membership. He said his time spent studying Spanish in Spain and Costa Rica, as well as linguistic education events hosted by his fraternity have made him want to translate for Disney movies someday.

“Diversity leads to truth, and it leads to beauty,” Salais said, “Because when you do learn about different cultures, you learn the truth about their humanity.”

Macomb sophomore and  MAC Scholar Kaitlyn Mack said CMU gave her a “culture shock,” because she learned about the diversity that was lacking in her hometown through her involvement at CMU.

“I think I’ve gained a better appreciation for diversity, just because of how much I’ve gotten to learn from others who aren’t like me and hearing their different experiences,” Mack said.

As the semester begins, programs and events centered around diversity will provide plenty of opportunity for involvement, education, and empathy.

“Conversations that Matter” is one such program students should look out for, Murray said. These are dinner events where students, faculty and staff share their perspectives on trending topics in a safe space, free from judgment - but full of listening. 

The first event will be Sept. 16 on the topic of critical race theory. 

Special to Homecoming week, Olympic swimmer, sprinter and four-time gold-medalist Cullen Jones will be visiting campus. Jones is the first African-American to hold a world record in swimming.

Murray said Jones will be holding a speaking event at 7 p.m. on Oct. 14 in the Plachta Auditorium. The event is free and open to the public.

Events like these, Murry said, create open lines of communication for people to learn from each other without ridicule.    

“When we know better, we do better,” Murry said.

Check the Office of Diversity Education website for more upcoming events.