AU Ethnic and Cultural Coalition celebrates diversity with first Cultural Week
The Ethnic and Cultural Coalition, a branch of Student Government, is hosting Cultural Week from Nov. 14 until Nov. 21 this year, hoping to expand the reach of cultural clubs and organizations at AU to the student body and community.
“This is a week of celebration in terms of the multicultural organizations on campus, for us to get together and show solidarity and support to one another,” said Jasmyn Shumate, a junior in the School of Communication and the president of AU’s Black Student Alliance. “We all come from different cultural backgrounds and there are certain traditions and customs that are important and distinct in our various cultures.”
Sebastian Ramirez, a senior in SIS and director of events for SG, presented the idea for a cultural celebration this past summer. Junior C.L.E.G. major, Tatiana Laing, co-chair of the Ethnic and Cultural Coalition helped him solidify the idea by creating a week of events that would include all cultural clubs and organizations that wanted to participate and have their own events.
Laing, who is of Jamaican descent and also president of AU Caribbean Circle, can personally attest to the multicultural experience at AU.
“Cultural students feel excluded from events and the general community at AU and often forsake their cultures to find a different way to fit in,” Laing said. “Having this cultural week is doing more to account for these diverse communities to help these individuals feel more at home and show them what AU has for them because they either don’t know what’s here or don’t know how to find it.”
The clubs and organizations participating in Cultural Week serve as a home to many multicultural students at AU. Some of the groups and events include:
- Caribbean Circle held its annual Ambassadors Dinner (Friday, Nov. 14)
- AU Association of Black Journalists held a multicultural media panel (Saturday, Nov. 15)
- Latinas Promoviendo Comunidad/Lambda Pi Chi Sorority, Inc. will be hosting a study session (Wednesday, Nov. 19)
- AU BSA will be hosting its annual soul food dinner (Friday, Nov. 21)
Queers and Allies will be putting on an event called “Queering Immigration,” about the importance of queer people having immigration rights and the importance of immigration reform.
Queers and Allies is one of the largest student groups on campus, according to Lex Loro, executive director of AU Queers and Allies.
“As an organization that works with queer people, queer people have all different types of stories and all identities, it’s really important for us to celebrate the intersections of those identities,” Loro said. “For us, it’s important to celebrate everybody’s different cultures and the different identities that are important to people.”
ECC and students of participating organizations hope that the AU community will support this initiative and learn about cultural differences from it.
“I hope that AU students become more culturally competent, culturally literate and culturally conscious of the various experiences, backgrounds and cultures that are here at AU,” Shumate said.
Shumate explains Cultural Week as an opportunity to educate the AU community and celebrate a diverse experience that is not exposed on a daily basis at AU. She said she hopes that this week will be the glue to help multicultural organizations work together and and support each other instead of being fragmented as a community.
“We hope that it will be the first of many cultural weeks, so the first annual,” Laing said. “Eventually, that will create an atmosphere on AU’s campus that is more welcoming to all ethnic and cultural people at AU.”