By DAVID STROBACH
“The University of Mary Washington is committed to creating a community that is diverse, inclusive and affirming to all individuals.” This is the first thing one sees on Mary Washington’s diversity and inclusion homepage, but how committed is it really?
Mary Washington hosts various multicultural student organizations such as the Latino Student Association, Black Student Association, African Student Association, Asian Student Association, and the Muslim Student Association. All of these organizations hold wonderful events with great music, dance and food that I encourage all students and faculty to attend.
However, when it comes to Mary Washington promoting such events, members of these multicultural clubs feel as though the University could do much more.
“I feel like a lot of the promotion of our events feels like it falls back on the [James Farmer Multicultural Center],” said Cameron Washington, sophomore and assistant secretary of the NAACP at UMW. “The JFMC does an amazing job at promoting our events. However, the University itself could definitely do way more to spread the word about our events.”
The JFMC is Mary Washington’s pride and joy when it comes to promoting diversity on campus. Students are grateful such a thing exists on campus, but it is simply not enough. So how can Mary Washington promote these multicultural clubs and create a stronger student-administration relationship? The answer is quite simple.
“UMW could promote multicultural clubs better by actually encouraging their own staff to attend and helping send out the message to the UMW community at large instead of leaving it up to the JFMC and SAE,” said Irene Andrade, junior psychology major and co-president of the Latino Student Association. “UMW would benefit from having representatives of multicultural clubs at any of their meetings because they would be hearing from multiple perspectives and communities that actually need to be heard.”
I believe Mary Washington would only benefit from giving these multicultural clubs agency in administrative meetings, especially ones regarding decisions on campus life and students as a whole. Mary Washington can say it is “committed to a community that is diverse,” but in reality it has not done much to back that up. Mary Washington’s poor commitment is more than just a lack of spreading the word on events, it’s funding as well.
“An email was sent out by the UMW administration saying how appreciative they were to have programs like the Freedom Rides organized by the JFMC, and I couldn’t help but think about how they don’t help fully fund these programs like that,” said Andrade.
In short, the administration here at Mary Washington has not really proved its devotion to multicultural clubs and their students. Way too much falls on the JFMC, and the pandemic is only making matters worse. With all on-campus events becoming virtual, these organizations are lacking even more promotion, specifically on social media.
“Social media is crucial,” said Washington. “The Multicultural Leadership Council (MLC) groups post their events frequently on their platforms, but I feel like a lot of the time, unless you follow them, they may go completely unnoticed in the algorithm.”
Before the pandemic, there would be signs and posters all over campus that advertised the various events these groups were holding. So, even if you did not receive an email about such events going on, you could not miss the posters and flyers all over Campus Walk. Now, unless you follow the right accounts, you miss out on all the events the multicultural clubs are holding. And it would not take much of an effort for Mary Washington to help promote these now-virtual events.
“It can be anything from a shoutout, to simply sharing or reposting anything from the JFMC’s social media platforms,” said Washington.
These multicultural clubs and organizations just want to feel as though their complaints and suggestions are not falling on deaf ears. They want to be involved in meetings, and the administration would only benefit hearing from their students. UMW needs to do more to prove its commitment to diversity and inclusion, and to the multicultural clubs on campus.