Diversity Doings: Events Aim to Boost Enrollment of Minorities

By Bryan K. Alfaro | THE EASTERN ECHO
Added August 30, 2011 at 8:47 pm

Eastern Michigan University’s department of Diversity and Community Involvement will be hosting a series of student events called L.I.V.E. Welcome Week (Learning Integrity while Valuing Equality), from Tuesday, Aug. 30 to Saturday, Sept. 3 on campus.

EMU’s director of DCI, Reginald Barnes, said the initiative is a last-minute supplement to orientation week to help acclimate incoming students, while focusing on bolstering African American and Latino enrollment and retention at the university.

He said the events are open to everyone, and student leaders will be placed around the campus to offer assistance to any new students interested.

“[The events are] designed to engage entering underrepresented students as early as possible in their collegiate career to inform them about academic resources that are available to them on campus, as well as, to get them involved in the regular goings on of the university,” Barnes said.

He went on to say students will have the opportunity to meet EMU professors, allowing them to build support systems for the coming school year.

Tuesday, the start of L.I.V.E. Welcome Week, will feature student musicians and dance troupes from 5:30-9 p.m. in front of Big Bob’s Lakehouse, located across the lake from the Student Center.

There will be no events scheduled Wednesday to allow students to settle into the first day of classes.

EMU’s Black Student Union will be presenting the first State of the Black Student Union address on Thursday, from 6:30-10:30 p.m. in the Student Center ballroom.

Friday, students have the opportunity to win a $500 scholarship from Metro PCS and challenge EMU and Howard University alumni in a basketball game.

The games start at 7 p.m. and will be held on the outdoor EMU basketball courts, weather permitting, or in the Recreation & Intramural building in the event of rain.

L.I.V.E. Welcome Week closes Saturday with pregame tailgating at Rynearson Stadium, before the 7 p.m. kickoff of the EMU vs. Howard University game.

Barnes said L.I.V.E. Welcome Week was put together entirely by students, with his oversight and signing of the checks.

“It was a big learning experience for them as well,” he said. “They’ve never done something this big for the community.”

Student leaders created fliers formatted to look like a Twitter page and posted a Facebook group for students to join to spread the word about the initiative.

DCI is comprised of four departments: Multicultural Affairs; Volunteers Incorporating Service Into Our Neighborhoods; the Women’s Center; and the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Resource Center.

All of the departments answer to Barnes and, for the most part, share similar goals: educating, integrating and supporting students.

Barnes said each of the departments is self-sustaining and all contribute its own set of programs to EMU and the surrounding community.

“There can be more inclusion and more dialogue about the similarities, the differences; kind of to illustrate the development of community that multiple diverse audiences can live, work, learn in the same community and value the differences of the other group, as well.”

The Multicultural Affairs department offers informative programs in an attempt to enhance understanding between cultures and to create an inclusive community on campus.

VISION is a community volunteer program to help students learn leadership skills, become active community members and meet Learning Beyond the Classroom requirements.

The Women’s center at EMU, which is celebrating its 21st anniversary, offers female students advocacy and referral services to the appropriate organization for health and financial needs, as well as, counseling for domestic violence and body image issues.

The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Resource Center’s web page said its door is open to everyone and, whether a student is looking for answers, friends or just a place to sit and watch a movie.

The DCI mission statement reads: “Provide participatory learning through purposeful experiences focused on social justice for students and the greater EMU community, preparing socially conscious citizens, leaders and advocates for our global world.”

Barnes admits it’s a bit wordy but justifies it because of the range of social and academic issues the DCI departments deal with collectively.

“The department does a whole lot,” he said. “It runs a gamut of different things … from the very social to the very academic, both on and off campus.”

Related Material:

Eastern Echo article archive: Diversity Doings

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