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The Daily Wildcat

 

Hundreds of students partake in event to help find communities

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Simon Asher
Victoria Navarro Benavides, L, and Robert McCune, R, discuss the game plan for the evening.

This year’s annual Finding Community Welcome event invited all University of Arizona students to engage with peers, faculty and staff representing the different resource and cultural centers on campus.

Hundreds of UA students filled the South Grand Ballroom at the Student Union Memorial Center Aug. 24, where they were presented with different opportunities available at the university.

The high-energy event was designed for students to enjoy seeking out different presenters to the backdrop of food, music, dance performances and raffle prizes in an inclusive environment. This year’s event comes in the wake of the UA’s most diverse incoming freshmen class in university history for fall 2017.

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“It has everyone start out working together across groups, across genders, across sexual identity — all of those things,” said  Kendal Washington White, dean of students. “People need to see the diversity in a setting like this, it’s connecting students to clubs and organizations, to the cultural centers and to each other.”

All of the UA resource centers with Common Ground Alliance showed up to the event along with some of the clubs operating out of those centers.

“Students are engaged; the energy was really great,” said Yesenia Andrade, a graduate student in Mexican American Studies and Ally Development Graduate Assistant at the LGBTQ resource center. “I think that people are really having a good time, so that’s exciting.”

Each group set up their own carnival-themed booths around the ballroom area. From throwing darts to a ball tossing game, students not only received a chance to have fun, but to learn throughout the experience. 

“I just think it shows it pays off through all of the effort and commitment and all of the support that our cultural resource centers provide to our students,” said Steve Martin, director of Native American Student Affairs and leader of the event. “To have this many students come through the doors to get connected to the student organizations and programs and services means a lot to us.”

Representatives were excited to share how they are involved in the community.

RELATED: UA boasts most diverse freshmen class in university history for Fall 2017

After introductions by each center,  students dispersed to explore the different stands. Dancers from the Dia Clones soon followed with a performance and students applauded as the routine continued.

“I think the event is successful,” Andrade said. “I’ve seen the event in the years past and this is probably the best event that I’ve seen.”

Matt Pham, a manager with the Dia Clones dance team, said the event helped their group.

 ”It’s very beneficial, we’ve been getting more involved throughout the years; before it was just a small group of friends but now we’re just involving more and more people,” he said. “Events like these are really helpful and we’re blessed to have this kind of event.” 

The event also continues to advance the UA’s goal of creating a 21st-century “Inclusive Excellence” campus, detailed on the university’s diversity webpage.

Before the event was created four years ago,  Washington White said each resource center created their own individual welcome week. Students and staff gave feedback about creating a community event where all would be represented together, at the same time.

Teresa Graham Brett associate dean of students and leader of inclusion and multicultural engagement said she’s excited to see how all the groups build upon the successful event. 

“It was amazing to see so many students come out to connect with each other, to just be out on the floor, tabling,” she said. “I think its a great start to the semester.”


Follow Shaq Davis on Twitter.


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