Students walking by the rock on Farm Lane on Tuesday afternoon were greeted with international music, dancing, free ice cream and the chance to interact with several different cultural organizations and university departments.
The event was part of the first annual Office of Cultural and Academic Transitions, or OCAT, Cultural Welcome Event.
The Welcome, which was hosted by OCAT in partnership with the Office of Student Support Services, offered students the opportunity to interact and socialize with one another.
The event also provided a forum for students to learn more about cultural organizations and diversity on campus, OCAT event coordinator Meaghan Kozar said.
“We wanted to make (this event) big this year and make it inclusive,” Kozar said. “We want to let (the students) know who OCAT is and make sure they know that we work closely with multicultural student organizations as well as departments on campus.”
For Murray Edwards, OCAT director, the event was all about exposing students to the cultural resources the university offers.
“We want students to have a well-rounded education and part of that
is getting an excellent cultural experience,” Edwards said. “We want to give the students the opportunity to connect with some of those cultural groups.”
Although there is cultural diversity and tolerance on campus, many students in attendance echoed similar sentiments that there still is more work that needs to be done to bring people together, said Brittany Harvey, an interdisciplinary studies in social science
junior and first-year cultural aid for OCAT.
“Through life you’re going to work with people from
other backgrounds, so it’s really important to promote multiculturalism in college,” she said.
“I encourage everyone to just step outside their box and
comfort zone and talk to somebody different to see where they’re coming from.”
Samantha Dela Cruz , a Comparative cultures and politics sophomore, attended to represent Alpha Phi Gamma, an Asian-American sorority.
Dela Cruz emphasized the importance that minority groups have on campus and what each cultural group offers to the university.
“There’s so many minority groups around here and it’s important to highlight the different cultures and all the different talents we have to offer,” Dela Cruz said.
“With such a diverse university this event allows us to show that even minority groups can stand on their own.”
The first one on the dance floor, Carlos Fuentes,assistant director of Internationalizing Student Life said the event was important, not
only to the university, but society as a whole, especially in today’s society.
“We can all blow each other up right now in this world or we can recognize the alternative,” Fuentes said. “We can try to get along and find ways to interact with events like this, or we can blow ourselves up. …I’d rather be out there dancing.”
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