The Fordham Ram

Office of Multicultural Affairs Plans Race Relations Initiatives

Dean Juan Matos discusses Fordham's plans for progress. Courtesy of Office of Multicultural Affairs

Dean Juan Matos discusses Fordham's plans for progress. Courtesy of Office of Multicultural Affairs


Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






Dean Juan Matos discusses Fordham's plans for progress. Courtesy of Office of Multicultural Affairs

Dean Juan Matos discusses Fordham’s plans for progress. Courtesy of Office of Multicultural Affairs

By Shea Redwine

The Office of Multicultural Affairs (OMA) is currently developing programs to institute change in race relations following last semester’s bias incidents.

Dean Juan Matos, who is in his second year as dean of the Office of Multicultural Affairs, received the 2016 Outstanding Midlevel Professional award from the Latino(a) Knowledge Community through Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education, an umbrella organization for student affairs.

“The biggest thing we are working on right now is trying to create a program specifically about race,” said Matos.
The Office of Multicultural Affairs began conducting focus groups on race relations with Diversity Peer Leaders (DPLs) and is now reaching out to clubs and organizations on campus. Additionally, OMA is researching similar programs at other institutions, but the type of program that the Office of Multicultural Affairs plans to create is not yet found at any other institution.

“The archetype we are hoping to follow is the same as the one we have for the LGBT and Ally Network of Support; an opportunity to have faculty, staff, students and administration come together and have a better understanding of the LGBT population, how to be resources, how to be allies and getting a better understanding of the lived experience of an LGBT person,” Matos said. “That’s what we want for this program, having a program where folks have the opportunity to learn more about other races and cultures, to have an opportunity to better understand the lived experience of an individual and understand how someone fits into the larger picture.”

The Office of Multicultural Affairs recently received an award for the LGBT Ally and Network of Support, the third award won for that program. The first two awards were through Jesuit networks and the third will be announced in March.
Some topics that will be included in the new program on race will concern white privilege, race and racism, micro-aggressions and cultural appropriation. The OMA will launch a small invite-only pilot in the fall of 2016 for key administrators, as well as some student groups. The soft launch of the program will take place in the spring of 2017 and will include people in different departments that have previously worked with the OMA. The actual launch of the program will take place in the 2017-2018 academic year.

As far as a mandatory race training program goes, Matos clarified that it would be “difficult to come out of our office in the sense that we don’t have that ability.” However, Matos referenced the Core Civility Program, a related program that all freshman are required to attend along with the Wellness and Fire Safety Training.

“[The civility program] was created based on incidents that happened in the past and the desire to create a mandatory program in order to talk about campus culture, campus climate and what Fordham civility looks like on campus,” said Matos.
He added that one challenge OMA is “trying to improve students’ perception of that session — that it’s nice to open doors for each other.”

“There seems to be a disconnect on us having the session on civility and what it means and people still doing whatever they want. [The bias incidents are] opening up the opportunity for us to be a bit more frank, whereas in the first year we decided not to be as direct — not for any particular reason, it was the launch of the program,” Matos said.

“But now we’re in a place where we can talk about bias incidents in a very open way and express that these are instances of incivility happening on campus, and students not understanding how to deal with cultural differences.”

Matos discussed whether there was any discussion of how to include students in off-campus housing in the race-relations focus groups. “Some of that will be with regards to us opening up to the community, specifically with focus groups,” Matos said. He added that they would have to work with the Commuter Students Association, but that there would be many challenges to overcome.

In addition to the development of a new program on race, a Diversity Task Force was also created. The Diversity Task Force has had three meetings so far and plans to have bimonthly meetings. The task force is composed of students, faculty, administrators and alumni. In the first meeting, Rev. Joseph M. McShane, S.J., president of the university, informed them of his vision for the task force and charged them to present a report with recommendations and suggestions at the end of the semester.

The Office of Multicultural Affairs hosts cultural programming and dialogues that are open to the student body. Some examples of dialogues that have been held are “Vegetarianism: Gender, Race, and Class,” “Does Being White Equal Being Racial?” “Women in Media” and “Body Images in Masculinity.” The dialogues are facilitated by Diversity Peer Leaders and a staff member from the OMA. The OMA promotes these events through its social media accounts on Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr and Twitter.

Another capability of the Office of Multicultural Affairs, according to Matos, is that “We are open to meeting with folks whether it’s a dialogue about a specific topic, or whether it’s a workshop or training, or doing a cultural program or workshop. We’re really open to the possibilities we have with working with student groups on campus.”

Rodrigue’s has approached OMA about a diversity training possibility, but they have not yet scheduled a consultation. The Office of Multicultural Affairs has the opportunity to do a diversity workshop, or a workshop tailored specifically to the group that approached them. For example, in the fall semester after the first bias incident, OMA was approached by the contemporary science fiction group. After a consultation with the student leaders, OMA facilitated a workshop on bias in “geek culture” that examined race, gender, sex, class and religion and how all of that ties back into how an individual experiences “geek culture.”

According to Matos, “anything can connect back to diversity and inclusion because each of us are a culmination of a variety of different identities and different experiences. So that’s something that any group could connect with us and more than likely we could figure out something to do, have a consultation and see what the groups wants.”

The Assistant Director of the Office of Multicultural Affairs at Lincoln Center, Dr. Ijeoma Nwaogu, will not be returning for the next academic year. The department has started its search with hopes of hiring someone in time for the Fall 2016 semester.

As of the end of the fall semester, over 1,000 people on campus have attended workshops or training with the Office of Multicultural Affairs.

 

Leave a Comment

If you want a picture to show with your comment, go get a gravatar.




Navigate Left
  • Academics

    Fordham’s Graduate Schools Move in U.S. News & World Report Rankings

  • Office of Multicultural Affairs Plans Race Relations Initiatives

    Faculty & Administrative

    University Addresses Clerical Abuse Allegations After Jesuit Northeast Province Releases List

  • Office of Multicultural Affairs Plans Race Relations Initiatives

    Academics

    University Names Dennis C. Jacobs, Ph.D., As New Provost

  • Office of Multicultural Affairs Plans Race Relations Initiatives

    Faculty & Administrative

    Poet, Playwright, Professional Tells Story

  • Office of Multicultural Affairs Plans Race Relations Initiatives

    Faculty & Administrative

    Outage Left Multiple Buildings Without Heat, Power

  • Office of Multicultural Affairs Plans Race Relations Initiatives

    Faculty & Administrative

    Assistant Dean and Director of Residential Life Resigns

  • Office of Multicultural Affairs Plans Race Relations Initiatives

    Academics

    Dean Mast Sits Down with Ram

  • Office of Multicultural Affairs Plans Race Relations Initiatives

    Faculty & Administrative

    Title IX Coordinator Evaluates First Semester

  • Office of Multicultural Affairs Plans Race Relations Initiatives

    Faculty & Administrative

    Olivia Hooker, Ph.D, Professor Emerita of Psychology, Passes at 103

  • Office of Multicultural Affairs Plans Race Relations Initiatives

    Faculty & Administrative

    Field Named for Fordham Grad in Need of Funding

Navigate Right
Fordham University's Journal of Record Since 1918
Office of Multicultural Affairs Plans Race Relations Initiatives