Every university desires diversity and inclusiveness. Here at Georgia Southern, the Office of Multicultural Affairs specializes in it. The office is designed to educate and celebrate the cultural and ethnic diversity of students, faculty, and staff here at Georgia Southern.
The office describes its three main functions as firstly being student success and support. The second focus is diversity training and education for the campus on various topics covering diversity, equity, inclusion, and social justice. Lastly, they focus on cultural enrichment, such as campus-wide events designed to highlight pieces of culture and create spaces of cultural celebration here on campus.
The office explained that these events are split into categories, with the first being a drop-in and geared toward fun, food, and dance. An example of these events is their Fiesta Day Celebration, which is used to engage students on a surface level about a specific culture or identity. The second category is educational opportunities, which are included with diversity training.
Multicultural Affairs Coordinator Ryan Moguel detailed why students should participate in the events hosted by the office.
“The educational pieces are really great because they give you either a deep dive or a broad scope of information about diversity, equity and inclusion topics. And students should engage in those because they are crucial to a well-rounded collegiate experience. Moreover, when we look at collegiate research, students who engage in cultural programming and diversity conversations and interact with folks that are different from them, across the board have better outcomes and are more likely to succeed by some percentages in our world,” Moguel said.
The office also has four student-led initiatives that focus on minority support. The first is Men of Vision and Excellence or MOVE, an African-American male-focused initiative—the second is Sisters with Vision or SWV, an African-American female initiative. The last two are Hispanic Outreach and Leadership Achievement; an initiative focused on supporting the Hispanic population and concentrated on Hispanic heritage; this year, a new initiative, the Asian Pacific American Initiative, focuses on the broad spectrum of AAPI identities.
Moguel expounded upon some of the duties and roles that students may not know that the office handles. “We are really focused on the minority student experience in supporting those students specifically, in whatever way we can through our programming, our initiatives, our trainings and creating a space for them to feel celebrated, loved and supported on our campuses. We also do a lot of initiatives that focus on ethnic and racial diversity, in addition to serving our LGBTQ+ students and their programming and our trainings,” Moguel said.
Moguel also spoke to the lessons learned from working for the office. “I’ve learned a lot about the Southern experience, right? I’ve also learned a lot from our students about the nuanced differences in identities that I hold in my geographic and social context that I grew up in, to now being here in the south,” Moguel said.
One example of an event that the office has that serves as an educational opportunity while also allowing students to have fun and enjoy themselves is an upcoming event titled Transgender Day of Remembrance. The event is open to all students and is meant to remember and commemorate transgender people who lost their lives due to suicide or things such as a hate crime incident. “So, it [Transgender Day of Remberance] is an opportunity for students to come and be in community with folks that care about trans lives and LGBTQ+ lives broadly, and potentially reflect on the importance of those lives,” Moguel said.
Moguel also spoke to the diversity at Georgia Southern and the work that still needs to be done.
“I started here in the Summer of 2020 and the inclusive excellence was implemented shortly before I got here, and I got here in the midst and sort of like the height of the pandemic. There wasn’t a lot of room for changes, everyone was focused on accommodating that [COVID-19]. But yes, there still is work to be done because we are a part of a larger system and a larger community at large that still has work to do around diversity, equity and inclusion. So, it’s not like a distinctly Southern issue but there is still work that needs to be done, but there is work to be done broadly around concepts of diversity, equity and inclusion”, Moguel said.
The office was also no stranger to the effects of COVID-19. Since the onset of the pandemic, the office had to move some events to be virtual, which in turn has required more planning and forethought to keep students engaged in the events despite them being virtual. Although recently, things have gradually moved back towards the standard format.
Nonetheless, students should expect an event-filled spring semester from the office, with the Martin Luther King Jr. celebrations coming in January. The Black Heritage Month celebrations in February and their annual drag shows in April.
“I believe it will be another fun opportunity for students and then always our initiatives will have their events in their calendar that they’re putting together now. So, lots of opportunities for students to engage with our office”, Moguel said.
Students can enter the office for more information about the programs and services offered. The Statesboro office is located on the 2nd floor of the Russell Union Room 2070. The Armstrong office is located on the second floor of the Memorial College Center in rooms 211 and 212.
Students are also able to call the Armstrong office at 912-344-3361 or the Statesboro office at 912-478-5281 or email OMA at email@example.com.