Celebrating diversity

Celebrating diversity

By Jenny Hudak

Celebrating diversity

By Jenny Hudak
The Office of Multicultural Student Affairs and Unity Roundtable Consortium host their annual Diversity Week, featuring a series of pop-up events, constructive dialogues, and the launch of a new initiative, MSA Productions.

Starting Monday, Nov. 16, the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs (MSA) and Unity Roundtable Consortium will host their annual Diversity Week full of informative and interactive events taking place both in-person and virtually. Kennedy Robinson, assistant director of MSA, says the events will focus heavily on providing a space for constructive dialogues amongst students. 

“Now more than ever, students are looking for these spaces to talk about what is going on in our world. If you’re not talking about it in a space that’s constructive, you might not be getting the information you need,” Robinson said, adding that student turnout at other MSA events this semester has seen a surge. 

Their goal this year was to collaborate with various communities and student organizations across campus, like the LGBTQ Student Center, to shed light on the different types of diversity that exist in our community. The event line-up also features a student-produced movie premiere as part of the launch of MSA’s newest initiative, MSA Productions. Tiyah Snell, a junior studying creative advertising, serves as an executive producer for MSA Productions.  

“We’re very excited for this movie to be our first main project. I think we tend to gravitate towards people who have a similar background to us, so with MSA Productions and this movie, we want to showcase and celebrate diversity on campus,” Snell said.  

The goal of MSA Productions is to enrich the University community by providing a platform for students to connect with their peers on a more personal level, to share their experiences, and to celebrate the culturally rich student life at the University of Miami through multimedia production. The movie screening on Nov. 16 will be their inaugural production.  

Snell, chair of the Unity Roundtable Consortium, opted to remain remote for the semester. She emphasized the importance of Diversity Week’s transition to a virtual format to connect with students who aren’t on campus. 

“The fact that MSA took this situation and made a space where we can still feel this sense of community from home is the most important part to me,” Snell said. “I feel like knowing me, and other remote students, still have that connection to the community we built on campus is so important.” 

Jennifer Ruggiero, an administrative assistant for MSA, has worked with the office for over 10 years. Ruggiero says she is looking forward to watching Diversity Week make the transition to a virtual format through the arduous efforts of the MSA student staff. 

“These students are so cognizant of what they’re bringing to the table because it’s for their peers,” Ruggiero said. “They work so hard all the time, and even though I’ve seen many Diversity Weeks, I’m excited to see how their creativity and planning come about this year.” 

Kailyn Hayes, a sophomore majoring in neuroscience, is co-chair of Diversity Week. In her role, Kaylin works alongside the Unity Roundtable executive board and the MSA staff to make sure both in-person and virtual events this week are ready-to-go.  

“Students sometimes come across our programs by accident as they are walking to and from classes. I think our campus having such easy access to information about diversity is important,” Hayes said. “Even if you learn just one thing, it makes you better because it opens a doorway to knowing and understanding something you didn’t know before.” 

As co-chairs, Snell and Hayes echoed the important role MSA has played in their time at the University, and how they hope Diversity Week continues to encourage conversations about diversity, inclusion, understanding and social justice. 

 “Working for MSA opened my eyes to so many things I hadn’t seen or thought of before. Different perspectives from different people made me realize how important it is to learn about things you don’t identify with, and that is what we’re really trying to encourage with Diversity Week,” Hayes said.  

Here is a list of Diversity Week events: 

  • Nov. 16: MSA Productions Presents: “Diverse U” 
    • 7 p.m. on the Lakeside Patio 
  • Nov. 17: Culture Pop-Up: Pages in Your Passport 
    • Noon to  2 p.m. on the Lakeside Patio 
  • Nov. 18: Difficult Dialogues: Perspectives of the U 
    • 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Zoom
  • Nov. 19: Real Talk: Misinformed - Native American History Month 
    • 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Zoom 
  • Nov. 20: Trans Day of Remembrance 
    • 11 a.m. - Memorial at the UC Canopy 
    • Noon to 1 p.m. - "Leadership & Resiliency in the Trans Community" on Zoom