On Friday, March 25, the University organized the “Meliora Multicultural Gala,” an hour-long celebration of on-campus cultural diversity. The event took place in Feldman Ballroom. In a University-wide email on Monday, the Office of the Provost welcomed students to “drop by to learn about, experience, and appreciate the myriad cultures represented within the University of Rochester community.” According to inside sources, in the wake of last month’s Lunar New Year controversy, the Office also encouraged instructors to give students a day off to attend the celebration.
Students of all backgrounds were in attendance, with some feeling that this was the first time they felt represented at a University-sponsored event. “This feels like D-Day, but the D stands for diversity,” visibly-excited sophomore Chad Smith told the Campus Times during a mid-program intermission. “The colors! The sounds! The smells! The sights! My brain is, like, in total overdrive right now.”
Programming for the evening started off with a moving performance by the Orange Sweaters, with the setlist featuring a cappella renditions of Don’t Stop Believin’ (Journey) and Livin’ on a Prayer (Bon Jovi). This was followed by what was introduced as a “magical” bellydance presentation by the Organization for the Exploration of Exotic Oriental Cultures (OEEOC), set to Genie in a Bottle by Christina Aguilera. The night was brought to a close with a mock Indian wedding, featuring student actors Kayleigh Williams (’23) and Bradley Cooper (’25) as the bride and groom respectively.
“I almost teared up for a moment there,” Williams said after her performance. “It was like all of my dreams were coming true.”
Cooper commented that he was afraid that the wedding would fall through until the last moment. “We just couldn’t find anyone authentic to play my best man,” he said.
The Gala also boasted an extensive dinner menu, complete with spice-less delicacies that could put even Panda Express to shame. Senior Liz Johnson said that she was overjoyed at the opportunity to enjoy food from around the world at the event. “I live off-campus now, so I’m happy I finally got to eat Pit sushi and Wok chow mein. I think [Meliora Multicultural] was an awesome idea. It gave me the chance to really steep myself in all of these different cultures,” she said.
In a brief conversation with CT, an anonymous representative for Wilson Commons Student Activities expressed hope that the Gala would become an annual occasion. “We are not discouraged by the lack of sign-ups,” he said. “Hopefully, the success of today’s event will set a precedent for even more bonafide multicultural groups and students to participate in Gala festivities in the future.”