Last month, I had the chance to check out UNO’s Diversity Week, which took place from Oct 28 to Nov 1. Diversity Week includes a bevy of different activities put on by many of the student organizations on campus, all of which support diversity. There were over 45 events going on throughout the week, ranging from yoga at the Rec Center, a movie night, Jazz at the Sandbar, lectures, open mic night, an international tea party, and even a horror-themed production hosted by the Nippon Club.
Schedule of events. Yes, there was lots of free food.
Spoken Justice: Open Mic Night at the Cove (photo via Cat Polivoda)
I, personally, was able to attend the Open Mic night held at The Cove. The event was made up of a variety of different poets reading original works. To support the theme of the week, many of the poems focused on racial segregation, financial hardships, and the trials and tribulations of life in America. All of the young men and women who performed did an excellent job and I’d be more than happy to check them out again sometime in the future.
To get a better understanding of Diversity Week, I talked to the Assistant Director for Student Involvement and Leadership (SIL), LeeAnne Sipe, who was instrumental in making Diversity Week the huge success that it was:
Cameron: What do you have to do with Diversity Week?
LeeAnne: I am part of Diversity Cabinet [UNO doesn’t have a Diversity Affairs Office] which…is made up of students, faculty, and staff, who all get together and take it upon themselves to stand up for diversity on campus. The group also does the Cultural Cafes and different diversity events around campus each semester, but we make sure to take one week out of the year to really try to focus on opportunities that give students the chance to experience diversity. I think a lot of people take diversity in New Orleans for granted. I know we are in New Orleans and we are in the most diverse university in Louisiana and because of that a lot of people don’t think we need this, but I think that is exactly why we need it too. We get really numb to interacting with each other and oftentimes don’t have very genuine interactions. This week gives students a chance to really interact with each other.
C: Just for clarification, what exactly is the Diversity Cabinet?
L: Led by Peggy Gaffney in the College of Business, Diversity Cabinet is a collection of people on campus who want to promote diversity on campus through any way possible. Usually that’s through programming, like a book club every semester. For example, if an organization wants to do a diversity-inspired event, they can go to the Diversity Cabinet and get some funding. Basically, it helps get diversity inspired ideas out in the open for everyone at school to enjoy.
C: Is it you guys who are in charge of putting on the events?
L: What Diversity Cabinet does is they kind of set up the week and then they utilize a call-to-events type of system. What they do is they reach out to different offices. Obviously SIL works a lot with it because we program a lot, but we really just help with logistics. I know FYE [First Year Experience] did a lot of programming and our big push was really to reach out to student organizations because we have so many. We really wanted them to take advantage of the week.
Movie Night, hosted by Nippon: Nightmares in Japan
What was the biggest event this year?
L: Our biggest event that was student-led was headed up by Nippon and Renshuu Douraku. It was called Nightmares in Japan, which was really awesome. It was all just student performances; Nippon even made a movie – a horror movie – to go along with the student performances to kind of tie everything together. It was just so cool to see such a niche community really opening up to the entire campus.
C: Did you get to go to any of the events?
L: Well, SIL holds Tuesday Teas with SAC, which allows us to tell students what’s going on each week. For Diversity Week, we did an International Tea and worked with Aramark [the food provider for UNO] to get a bunch of different teas from all over the country. It allowed us to talk a little bit about the history and background of these different teas and the countries they come from.
C: Would you say that, overall, the week went well?
L: Yeah, I would say it was very successful. It was definitely the most active Diversity Week as far as student life is concerned. I saw the most student organizations participate, the most offices, and easily the most events. We had over 50 events for that one week. Really just a lot of opportunities.
Mike Hoffshire (FYE Student Success Counselor) and more of the Coming Out Panel hosted by UNITY
If you are interested in learning more about UNO’s wonderfully diverse culture, check out the official Facebook
page. Also, check out the calendar of the events from this year to help give you a solid idea of what to expect next year.
**If you are interested, here some people you can get in touch with to help get you started with Diversity Cabinet and other student-led organizations on campus:
LeeAnne Sipe, Asst Director of Student Involvement & Leadership (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Peggy Gaffney, Asst Dean, College of Business Administration (email@example.com)
Nurab Khadka, Graduate Service Asst, Academic Affairs (firstname.lastname@example.org)