For students looking to be more involved with diversity, Appalachian State University offers several offices and clubs dedicated to increasing diversity and safety on-campus. As App is a predominantly white campus, minority students are encouraged by office supervisors and members to explore their cultures and get more involved in a welcoming and diverse community.
The Multicultural Student Development Center, located on the second floor of Plemmons Students Union, is the main office for anyone looking to get more involved with App State diversity. MSD provides a wide array of clubs and offices dedicated to making App State a more diverse campus.
The Hispanic Student Association, Black Student Association and Asian Student Association are some of the few clubs associated with the MSD offices and provide places for diverse students to get more involved with their own cultural community.
Vimbikai Chitambira, a junior finance and banking major, is an office assistant for the MSD main office. He assists anyone who comes into the office and is also a supervisor and director of events held by the offices.
“The MSD office helps provide resources for multicultural students and any events that we hold,” Chitambira said. “We host events for people to de-stress and help relieve any problems faced by diverse students. MSD also looks over the other three offices, the Multicultural Center, the Women’s Center and the LGBT Center. All of the office’s main purpose is to make people feel safe.”
Their common space, an open area for anyone to socialize, study and engage with other multicultural students, is one of many resources they have to offer. The center promotes overall wellness of all students and encourages interaction with intercultural activities. The Multicultural Center also offers enrichment grants and space reservation.
Events held by the center include a multicultural student welcome reception, Kwanzaa celebrations, multicultural awards and several intercultural lunch and learn sessions.
Within App’s predominantly white campus, one of the Multicultural Center’s main goals is to encourage appreciation of diverse cultural and identity groups on this campus.
Kendall Rankin, a graduate public administration major, specializes in diversity management, specifically on App State’s campus.
“There’s always room for improvement of diversity on this campus,” Rankin said. “Steps should be more looking into diversity recruitment. We have the infrastructure to work toward solving the issue. App needs to start recruiting students from underrepresented areas but needs to recruit faculty. When high school students see that App has a more representing student body, they will be more likely to apply here.”
The Multicultural Center also encourages volunteers to work desk hours within the offices. Volunteers work desk hours within the center to ensure the common space is a welcoming area and to answer questions from visitors.
The Women’s Center is another MSD office that promotes the safety of women on campus. The common space for the Women’s Center is located on the first floor of the PSU. It provides a space for promoting wellness and safety of women, as well as a place for women to seek guidance for any problems they may be facing. The App State Women’s Center is also the only completely volunteer-run Women’s Center in North Carolina.
The Women’s Center provides several resources for the women of App State. Women are able to pick up free hygiene products and condoms as a way to provide affordable wellness to students. During a weekly event, prosthetic breasts knitted by the desk-volunteers are made available for survivors of breast cancer.
The Women’s Center itself is not a club, but women are encouraged to meet in the Women’s Center every Monday from 6-7 p.m. to talk about any issues they may be facing.
The Women’s Center also holds several events throughout the year, such as the Vagina Monologues and Walk for Awareness. Walk for Awareness is an event that typically takes place in August or September that brings awareness to the lives of two App State women who were abducted and raped in 1989.
Jaxeli Martinez, a senior psychology major, is one of the volunteers at the Women’s Center.
“The Women’s Center is just a great place for any woman on campus to sit down and rant about their feelings,” Martinez said. “We offer many resources for these women, including an anonymous reporting system where women can come in and report any student or faculty who may have made inappropriate comments or approaches towards them.”
Other clubs dedicated to fighting the oppression of women include the Appalachian Women Leadership Group and the Gender, Women’s and Sexuality Studies student club.
The third center, also located on the first floor of the PSU beside the Women’s Center, is the LGBT Center. Within the LGBT Center, students of all genders and sexualities can socialize with other students who also identify with the LGBT community. The center is dedicated to providing a place for LGBT students to feel supported by a community of like-minded individuals, as well as providing resources specific to the community.
Some resources include free HIV testing twice a year. LGBTQA panels are also available for any club on campus to schedule in order to better educate themselves about the community.
The LGBT Center also provides LGB therapy sessions for identifying students to seek help and discuss issues they may be facing. There is also a transgender therapy group for identifying students that discusses problems gender-variant students may face on campus. There is also a list of all gender-neutral bathrooms on campus on the LGBT Center’s website.
Another resource listed on the LGBT Center website is The Voices Project, where any member of the LGBT community can submit stories online about their experiences within their lives.The stories are then read through for App State to know what faculty and students need to do for the campus to become more inclusive of LGBT students. The stories may be used in seminars or other services to teach faculty how to better teach to the needs of their students.
Anyone seeking to find a community of like-minded individuals should look into volunteering for the offices or joining associated clubs.
Story by: Amber Grant, A&E Reporter
Photo by: Halle Keighton, Photo Editor
Featured Photo Caption: Multicultural Student Development has over 30 different inclusive clubs and organizations in order help the diverse student population.