Multicultural Affairs to INCLUSION, DIVERSITY & EQUITY

More stories from Jeffry Mateo

November 9, 2017

SYRACUSE, NY- Le Moyne College has officially changed the name of the Office of Multicultural Affairs to the Office of Inclusion, Diversity &

The office changed its name because it wanted to sound more available to all groups of people, not just people of color.
The Office of Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity is directed by Bennie D. Williams. According to the Le Moyne College website the mission statement of the office is: “We work to promote an inclusive and equitable campus culture through cultural, social, and educational programing.” The idea of the transition came from Williams, as he felt that the work of the office went beyond just culture. When people hear the word multicultural, it only sounds as if it is focused on race and ethnic backgrounds. William’s office does more than just help people of color.

For example, they also help people from the LGBTQ+ community as well as women. “Multicultural affairs is becoming an obsolete term. The term came about from the civil rights movement. They really focused on Latino and African American students,” Williams says.

The office does not only support students, it also supports faculty and staff at Le Moyne by providing training and support. The new name did not impact the goals, intent or even the approach of the campus. According to Williams, the name change is not a phase or something for publicity. It is simply because it is recognized as something valuable to the student experience. The name switch makes the office sound more broad and welcoming to other students who search for resources on this campus. Making the campus a diverse and inclusive environment is what Williams believes in.

“Diversity is simply the presence of differences,” Williams stated. “To be aware of and to appreciate differences to understand where people come from and how those experiences shape who they are as an individual.”

“The transition was not as easy as some people think it was. It had to go through different channels and the institution had to approve it,” added Kenyon Black, the Chair of William’s Advisory Board and the director of the Upward Bound program. Black thought that the transition was necessary and that the term “multicultural affairs” was outdated. He believes that the transition made the office sound more direct and inviting because of the hard work and dedication of Williams. “Le Moyne is very fortunate to have a guy like Bennie Williams. He is more than willing to fight and advocate for anybody.”

Ashley Valentin, the Diversity Affairs Chair for the Le Moyne College Student Government Association and a former Diversity Ambassador, also agrees with the change.

“A lot of people did not understand what multicultural affairs meant and to put it into three words, inclusion, diversity and equity makes it straight forward,” Valentin said.

Williams is looking forward to the campus as a whole becoming more engaged than they already have been. He also looks forward to being more available to the community. Valentin says that, “The office will focus more on inclusion so that Le Moyne students will be able to get the support that is catered to each individual.” As for Black, he looks forward to seeing more people attending multicultural and diversity events on campus in order to understand the Jesuit mission.