Office of Campus Life co-hosts AU Mosaic affinity welcome for cultural affinity groups
Students and staff gathered for community engagement and connection
The American University Office of the Provost and the Office of Campus Life hosted AU Mosaic, a welcome back event for the faculty, staff and student cultural affinity groups on campus Thursday.
This event was part of AU’s plan for inclusive excellence. At the event, students and staff played lawn games, mingled and enjoyed free food from businesses owned by people of color.
Amanda Taylor, the OCL assistant vice president of diversity, equity and inclusion, said the purpose of AU Mosaic was to be in community with others, “connect with students at the human level” and create a space for affinity connections, cultures and identities.
“Sometimes you see one picture of AU and everybody assumes that this is who AU is, but in fact, we have such richness among our faculty, staff and student communities,” Taylor said. “This event really just was a chance to sort of be together and try and build relationships among faculty, staff and students.”
Janaylin Carela, a freshman in the College of Arts and Sciences, said the way faculty were engaging with students was friendly and that she appreciated the event. Carela, a Latina woman, was originally skeptical when she came to AU because of the small percentage of Hispanic people.
“But I’ve gotten to find a warm community … Of course, there are going to be situations which will negatively impact you and you feel like an outsider, but just knowing that you have people to rely on is so nice,” she said.
Latino and Hispanic affinity group leader Milton Garcia, a technical trainer in the Office of Information Technology, said community is important and being able to meet and talk to people is what makes AU great. Before the pandemic, iterations of AU Mosaic occurred, but “what's different about this event than the others, is it has brought several members and silo offices from AU together,” Garcia said.
Taylor said she’s learned a lot about diversity initiatives from being in the assistant to the vice president role for five years.
“The work has to start from a place of building relationships and connections with each other that are full of trust and really based on coming to understand each other,” Taylor said. “You have to work on the systems and the structures — all of those things really matter when trying to make a change and make a more anti-racist institution, more inclusive institution and a more equitable institution.”