A Tech Talk story about a protest against the Office of Multicultural Affairs more than a week ago came as a surprise to many, especially Adam Collins, coordinator for the office.
“My problem with the article was that no one came in to talk to me,” Collins said.
Collins said the protest took place around noon when most of the administrators were out for lunch.
According to the OMA website, one purpose of the office is to provide an environment that welcomes all students, faculty and staff.
“I teach a university seminar class and I have only one minority student out of 20 students,” Collins said. “For them to read this type of article and develop a misunderstanding for information that is not factually based can be a tremendous setback to this department, and to a greater extent, student affairs.”
Collins said the office was established in 1995 to create unity, not divisiveness on campus.
“I’m here to work to bring students together and to bring the campus community together, not to divide,” Collins said. “My department has a history of bridge building, not bridge burning.”
As part of a class project for Speech 300, the students were protesting what they characterized as their exclusion from the lounge, which connects the Office of Multicultural Affairs and the International Students Office.
“The lounge is not the multicultural lounge, it is the multicultural and international lounge,” Collins said. “Although the lounge is titled as such, it is for all students.”
Both offices are under the division of students affairs.
Chelsea Walker, a senior psychology major who took part in the protest, said the it was part of a project for which students had to do an ironic performance.
“The irony in the performance was by promoting a lounge just for minorities or people of color; it is not for others,” Walker said. “While trying to promote something for someone else, you are closing off it to everyone.”
According to their website, the purpose of OMA is to empower students of color through educational, social and leadership initiatives; promote cultural understanding; and to foster and enrich diversity. The site notes that OMA’s services are available to all students.
When Walker was told the lounge is for all people, she said it did not change her view, because use of the lounge by people not of color or international is not promoted.
“White Americans students said they were not encouraged to go to the lounge,” Walker said. “I would understand how a white student would not feel encouraged to go in there.”
She also said the reason they group protested at lunch time was because it was the only convenient time for everyone involved to do the protest.
“We weren’t protesting purposely to get people angry,” Walker said.
Collins said the office has never excluded anyone, but has tried help those at Tech who sometimes feel excluded as part of the minority.
“The title multicultural affairs is for a reason,” Collins said.
Collins said the office is open to everyone on the campus and tries to create diversity by bringing groups together. He said the office works with many different organizations such as SGA and Union Board.
“This office serves the needs of students, all students,” Collins said. “It just so happens that it has a primary focus; however, it is not limited to that group.”
Walker said she never meant to offend anyone with the protest and it was never meant to protest anybody, but just to protest what was said in the mission statement.
“I think the performance was successful after all because of the reaction,” Walker said. “Now people are aware.”
Email comments to rcj...@latech.edu.