The Niagara University Office of Multicultural Affairs, located in lower level Gallagher Center, hosted an open house Thursday, September 7th to kick of the 2017 fall semester. The office was open to students and staff, as they were invited to stop by and check out some of the latest upgrades to the office. Not to mention the cross-cultural foods on display including spring rolls, caprese skewers and chicken and waffles.
The office has gone through a makeover and its new look is very appealing. Comfy furniture, board games and a big TV give the office a homey feel. There are also areas for work where students can tackle assignments or even meet in groups for studying. So, if students would like to catch up on their shows or get ahead on some work, alone or with a friend, the office is always a comfortable place to be. Inside is the most balanced space for work and play.
“We want to make diversity not sound like such a scary word.”
- Averil Harbin, Director of Multicultural Affairs
The revamped office, according to Harbin, is a safe place where being yourself is welcomed. The office does not simply seek to mesh cultures together but rather change perspectives by placing students in someone else’s shoes. Harbin’s motivation for cross-cultural understanding comes from her 4-year-old daughter, Faith.
“Faith has a friend named Aiden, and the two of them are different races (Faith, black and Aidan, white) and Aidan has a crush on Faith,” Harbin continued, “so he shows her off to his family and friends with such pride at various gatherings as if there is no difference between them at all. It’s the most beautiful thing ever, and it just goes to show that discrimination and racism are taught. Here we seek to bridge the gap between those two 4-year-olds and young adults who remain in-group. We want diversity to be comfortable.”
The following quote is placed in the center of the office:
“If we cannot end our differences at least we can make the world safe for diversity.”
At OMA, difference is another subject to be studied and understood. Whether it’s skin color, sexual orientation or preferred style of fashion, OMA invites students to stop by all semester to share in a safe place where being different is not different at all.
The Office of Multicultural Affairs host many cultural events and panels throughout the semester, for all that are interested. OMA is not about trying to bring in droves of students to campus events. Instead it’s all about changing perspectives one person at a time.