While I am a member of the Leadership Advancement Scholarship, I am also a member of the Multicultural Advancement Scholarship. As part of this scholarship, it is my job to be inclusive, aware, and an accepting contributor on Centrals campus. As part of my protocol for the scholarship, I am required to attend two cultural events for each of the cultural history months, including, African American, East Asian, Native American, etc.
It ended up being very convenient that I was placed on the Diversity Lead Team, whose requirements were to attend one cultural event each month. In regards to the Lead Team, I didn’t really have much of an experience, because I was already attending. I would like to suggest that the Diversity Team add a requirement to bring someone else to the events. As a group who is supposed to be culturally aware, it should be our responsibly to share our experiences and promote further understanding.
I actually learned a lot from attending the cultural events. One of the most memorable events I attended was Herman Boone’s, the coach portrayed in Remember the Titans, speech on race and sports. Besides Remember the Titans being one of my all time favorite movies, Coach Boone’s story is amazing. He seems so much bigger than life seeing him from a screen, but being present for his speech made him seem so real. He experienced nothing special for the times, but his ability to bridge the racial tension in an entire community makes him extraordinary. Another event that I enjoyed was the Keynote speaker about the Divine Nine, which if you didn’t know, is the nine black fraternities and sororities on Central’s campus. Before attending this speaker, I wasn’t a huge fan of the idea of “black frats” just because it seemed like it was furthering the racial gap on campus. But after hearing from the speaker, who shared the history and is actually a member of one of the Divine Nine, I was exposed to a new perspective. The purpose of this organization is upholding a tradition that back in the day was nearly impossible to possess. It is amazing how committed and loyal these members are to the organization. The only thing I left questioning was the University’s lack of appreciation. None of the organizations have houses on campus; they simply have a rock, a rock which was recently vandalized. For a community of people on this campus who contribute so much to the culture and diversity, it seems like someone should take more notice in appreciating and recognizing their importance.
Being exposed to the MAC scholarship has opened my eyes to all the ways Central could improve in regards to cultural and inclusion. First, I am very concerned with the segregation that has been implemented into our campus. Majority of the foreign exchange students are placed in Herrig. I would assume that they have decided to attend college in the U.S in an effort to experience that culture. We are doing them a disservice by not allowing them to experience interactions with American students. Just walking around campus, I always see international students together. The same thing can be said for LAS and MAC. As the “leaders” and “cultural champions” of campus, I believe it would be more beneficial to disperse us throughout campus so we can share our wisdom and inspire others to be better. Though I understand the reasoning behind housing these programs together, I think Central is missing an opportunity. I say these things despite my personal experience as well. I have personally loved living with LAS as they have become my best friends. However, I feel like I was given a job to perform on this campus, which I think could be expanded by distributing me and other LAS members through our campus.
It think the cultural opportunities we offer at CMU is extremely under appreciated. They are great learning experiences and I wish more people would take the time to try it out. I know I have personally grown as an individual from going and exposing myself to the unknown, as well as expanding the knowledge I already have. I highly suggest that ALL organizations encourage a dialogue about these free event the University offers.