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Multicultural organizations advocate diversity among members, allies

While the University offers a broad range of diversity on campus, it offers the same diversity in multicultural organizations on campus.

One of these organizations is VISION, the umbrella organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, questioning, allies or asexual [LGBTQIQA*].

VISION, which advocates for community identified allies, looks to be fun and educational outside of the meetings, by providing panels and more education to those who want to work with the organization. The president of VISION, Victoria Johnson said the main goal is to make the University a safe space for everyone.

“We advocate for the community,” Johnson said. “And it’s mainly to make a safe space where identifying people can be and where allies can be.”

VISION’s main goal is to branch out into the community, understanding intersexuality, the whole human being and understanding what there is to a person and to “just have as much fun as possible,” Johnson said.

VISION is not the only multicultural organization on campus that is advocating for awareness on campus. Among others are the Latino Student Union [LSU] and Black Student Union [BSU].

The Latino Student Union looks to raise awareness and provide students a way to learn about the Latino culture, said Mayra Lopez, the president of LSU.

While each organization has its own goals, they all strive to do the same thing — be inclusive, along with raising awareness and educating others.

One of VISION’s goals is to make the whole University a safe zone, which would allow for people to be safe and fluid. A way VISION is doing this is through a weeklong event called Coming Out Week.

Starting Oct. 13th, Coming Out Week is meant to allow people to celebrate their own identity. All week long, there will be events daily, from an interfaith panel, benefit dinner, a stand-up comedian and a talent show.

“Coming Out Week is a whole week spent celebrating your own identity and being able to feel proud about it and coming out to someone new in your life,” Johnson said. “We have events all over the place, which I think is really great because we can bring out different types of people and different kinds of interest.”

While VISION has Coming Out Week, LSU also has their own events aimed at reaching out and spreading awareness through the community.

LSU holds the Cesar Chavez National Blood Drive Challenge in the spring, along with Latinopalooza and the Latino Issues Conference.

LSU also started a toy drive last year for children in need, collecting over 50 toys. The organization also holds a mentoring program that helps adults and children, weekly, by helping adults learn English and helping children with their homework.

But overall, LSU wants to raise awareness and does so by hosting Latino Nights, which starts right after the Latino Issues Conference on Oct. 23rd. Latino night will be hosted once a month and will be playing live music along with Latino dance lessons.

“We usually do monthly Latino Nights. It’s just playing all types of music and it’s just a time for everyone to come together and just dance,” Lopez said. “It’s also to raise awareness. It’s a chance to learn and get together with people who don’t know the music or love the music.”

What both of the organizations have in common is providing a meeting place for those who are underrepresented, said Tobias Spears, the assistant director in the Office of Multicultural Affairs.

“The purpose of those organizations is to provide meeting places for people who are under-served and under-represented to congregate and meet and talk and to see people who look like them and see people who identify in the ways they do,” she said, “It’s also a time to show the diversity of those groups.”

The organizations allow students the chance to put themselves into a safe space, along with visibility and providing friendship with people.

Both organizations make sure to be inclusive and diverse within the organization itself, be it about the diversity or by the identities of those who are involved in the organization.

“We are always very adamant and putting it out there that we are ourselves, do not discriminate as an organization and we truly stick by that. We’re all about inclusion and diversity,” Lopez said.

For VISION, understanding identities is a key factor in making sure people are educated and aware of diversity.

“You have to be hyperaware of everyone’s identities and being able to honor those identities,” Johnson said. “Something that is very interesting is that we try to be all encompassing. Bringing to the forefront is the identities you may not hear as much and educating people about them and advocating for them.”

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