The Office of Multicultural Enrichment conducted their second annual Block Party where students were able to enjoy music and conversation on the patio of the Student Recreation and Wellness Center on Friday evening.
Throughout the evening, students savored free hotdogs and hamburgers while OME student organizations introduced their groups to those present.Â SHADES and Sanctify dance groups performed which spurred on a large crowd to break out in dance after the performance ended.
Liz Chavez, senior psychology major from San Antonio, is a student staff member of OME and said they ended last year with a block party and decided to start off the new year with it as well so freshmen could learn about the groups involved with OME.
“It brings everybody into a community type of setting,” Chavez said. “It’s low key and comfortable, something that everybody is used to- it’s the perfect opportunity for people to get together, meet the officers and feel relaxed.”
OME, which support groups such as the Black Students’ Association, Hispanos Unidos, Virtuous Sisterhood, SHADES and Sanctify, is working to increase its visibility on campus so students are more aware of its services, Chavez said.
“We’re trying to increase the retention of our minority students, because a lot of them are students who have been dropping out of ACU in the past,” Chavez said. “We want to create community and a bond for the students so they know that they are in a safe place; it offers a family and a sense of belonging.”
Kholo Theledi, family studies, sociology and gerontology major from Pretoria, South Africa, is involved in Virtuous Sisterhood and International Students Association and said encouraging diversity at ACU is important.
“OME gives us a lot of support and has the same purpose as we do, which is to support multiculturalism on campus through academics, personal life and spiritual growth to make sure that ACU doesn’t look one way, that there’s diversity,” Theledi said.
Theledi said that as the world becomes more globalized it is essential to be more integrated so students will be able to reach other cultures, whether through missions or just in an effort to avoid discrimination.
Byron Martin, interim director of student multicultural enrichment, said they had a lot of students involved in the OME groups, averaging 60 members per group last year.
“We’re trying to increase that number, since the incoming population is about 30 percent diverse,” Martin said. “And, really, we want to reach the entire class because our groups are open to everybody and anyone can join and be a part of this, you don’t have to be black or Hispanic, you just have to be one of God’s children.”
Martin said OME will be bringing back “Sundaes on Mondays” again this semester, a discussion driven event where members and students can address some of the hot button issues that students are facing regarding culture and diversity.
“The world is made up of more than just one point of view,” Martin said. “So being able to be enriched by different ways of looking at things is a true form of education that allows our students to really be well rounded as they leave here and go into a multicultural world -that’s our goal.”