By Jheanelle Kerr
The Niagara University Office of Multicultural Affairs – otherwise known as Oma – is considered a safe space for all students regardless of race, color, sexual orientation or gender. It is known for its promotion of inclusion and diversity. This office is in charge of most of the cultural events on campus. These events range from dance parties to different communities showcasing their culture on campus.
Oma is a big umbrella under which various clubs operate. These clubs include multicultural affairs advisory board, students aligned against sexism, African-Caribbean student alliance, Latinos Unidos, Asian student union, Sexuality and gender equality, Black student union, and Muslim student association. Oma is located in the Lower Level Gallagher center and can be easily spotted by the different flag representations on the office’s wall.
Different representations of colors and identities operate this powerhouse office with the sole purpose of ensuring students know that they have a place on campus to escape to. Their events also prove that they are focused on fulfilling their mission.
“Dine with Oma” is an event that is done for two hours. This is where they introduce students to different cultures through food and art. For national Hispanic Heritage Month, dancers were brought in to teach students the salsa background from all the regions, after which they then dined on Dominican food. This month, they are doing a showcase of Indian culture with an Indian dancer and an Indian menu. Students are sent emails every month with the list of events for that specific month, and posters can also be seen in various parts of campus.
Oma also hosts “Diversity Topic Thursday.” This event is done two Thursdays per month. This month, a collaboration was done with Latinos Unidos, where they discussed colorism in Hispanic households. This event shined a light on a topic that is not comfortable to discuss, but necessary to break through the barriers of colorism.
Oma creates an atmosphere where leaders can foster their talents and become ambassadors for other students. Taylor Lilton, the program coordinator and past Niagara University student, said this office is open to everyone. The purpose on campus is to ensure students know that they have a safe place to come and watch television or make friends with staff members who are eager to get to know them. It is a place where you can get leadership opportunities and make use of a skill that you might have hidden.
As a junior who recently transferred, I felt out of place, but I was greeted with love and support from Simone Beckford, the assistant director of Oma, who introduced me to this haven on campus. I now intend to take advantage of all the resources available to me as a student and use them to further my life’s mission, which is to be a leader in every way possible.