Continuing Meliora Weekend’s multicultural message, the Celebrating Diversity reception and dinner welcomed the Black, Hispanic and Asian alumni for an all-class reunion.
Among the attendants were President Seligman and his wife, former Jamaican prime minister the Most Honorable Edward Seaga and UR’s oldest living graduate Olivia Hooker.
Born out of the combined efforts and planning on behalf of Multicultural Alumni Advisory Committee, which is a board composed of former alumni and trustees, the reception and dinner marked the first and largest event this newly formed board has ever taken on.
“This is a celebratory event driven by celebrating how far we’ve come,” MAAC Chair and University Trustee Francis Price ’74, said. “We intend to make sure that alumni keep coming back.”
MAAC aims to make sure that the institution’s fabric reflects the multicultural society in which we live, according to Price.
“When I came here 30 or so years ago, minorities were disconnected from the university – they didn’t feel welcomed,” Price said. “We’re trying to change that.”
Price and other guests stressed the importance of education in understanding today’s society.
“Education is the ladder on which you can climb to move from one social level to the next,” Seaga said. “Minorities in particular need that ladder. The social nature of [this] occasion as well as the education makes it valuable.”
Like MAAC, many of the on-campus multicultural organizations aim to instill a sense of appreciation and awareness.
Alumni have noticed these efforts and commented that they are not in vain.
“We live in a world of global interdependence – you cannot avoid being multicultural,” Navim Ram ’95, said. “If you’re not multicultural, you’ve got nothing. The world is a global village. If you perform well in your category, you’ll move ahead. If you’ve got what it takes, there’s no hindrance.”
While recognizing that minority students today still face certain obstacles, MAAC is aimed toward inspiring students to take advantage of the years’ social advancements.
“America processes everything through race and culture,” Price said. “We practice racial stratification, but no one wants to talk about it. Education is the only equalizer in society – the only way to bring down barriers, change social classes. [It is] the easiest way to change the outcome of your life.”
Chang can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.