Diversity means a lot more to the Multicultural and Diversity Center than types of race or culture; it celebrates all of the characteristics that make people different from one another.
Diversity Week at Dixie State University kicked off Monday with events planned every day through Friday. The advisers of the MCDC welcomed a new partner this year to help with the week-long celebrations. The advisers of the Disability Resource Center will contribute by showcasing all aspects of diversity represented at DSU.
Kristine Whittaker, coordinator of the MCDC, said Diversity Week is a week of celebration and inclusion for everyone who attends DSU.
“It’s a week to educate about different cultural backgrounds and some of the other aspects of diversity,” Whittaker said. “So that’s why this year we teamed up with the DRC. They’re going to educate students about disabilities as well.”
In addition to the DRC’s open obstacle course featured on the diagonal Monday and today, the National Association for Mental Illness is screening the movie “Call Me Crazy” in the Gardner Student Center today at noon. But, the real highlight of Diversity Week begins tonight at 7:30: The Dance Extravaganza.
The Dance Extravaganza will be held in the Dolores Dore’ Eccles Fine Arts Center. The event is a celebration of dances that come from different parts of the world. From traditional cultural dances to hip-hop and performing arts ballroom, student-performers have put together an entertaining show for the whole community.
“I’m part of the Pacific Islanders Student Association, and we’re doing different dances from the islands,” said Josie Knight, a senior respiratory therapy major from Bountiful. “I’m not even Polynesian.”
Knight said she is Venezuelan and takes part in more Polynesian traditions than those of her home country. Ashley Holiday, a freshman nursing major from Kayenta, Ariz., is Native American but participates in other cultural activities besides her own.
“I signed up because everyone is very welcoming,” Holiday said. “You don’t have to be a certain ethnicity to join.”
Holiday said in addition to being a member of PISA, she is the vice president of the Native American Student Association, and Diversity Week is a way it reaches out to students who don’t know about the clubs.
“Sometimes our clubs get together and host fun activities,” Holiday said. “And we are welcome to everyone. We definitely know there are a lot more students who are of a certain ethnic group and they decide not to join (MCDC). I think sometimes they just don’t know about us because we’re below the Old Gym.”
Students not involved with the MCDC also have an opportunity to express their diversity in an artistic way. The Gay-Straight Alliance Club is displaying three canvas walls around different spots on campus all week where students can walk by and paint freely.
“We’re going to showcase [the finished art piece] either in the Sears Gallery or put it on different places around campus throughout the year,” Whittaker said. “It’s artwork people can add to. We really want to have a lot of students be involved this year.”
Whittaker said the future of Diversity Week lies on the team effort put forth by all departments at DSU. She said one method the MCDC utilized in the past is with tradition of “Taste Around the World,” which will take place Friday at noon outside the Gardner Center.
The MCDC teams up with the International Student Office each year for a potluck of worldly food. Students and faculty are invited to make a dish of their choice and share it with the attendees. They will offer small sample sizes so people can experience the tastes from all parts of the world.
Whittaker said the MCDC will continue to reach out to the community through these celebrations in hopes that students embrace their culture and become proud of who they are and where they come from.