First CommUMDiversity Expo Provides More Inclusion-Related Resources on Campus

Multicultural Involvement and Community Advocacy (MICA) organized the first CommUMDiversity Expo Nov. 2. Scattered around the atrium of the Stamp Student Union were 22 tables with diversity and inclusion-related campus resources.

The expo was arranged in conjunction with UMD’s Rise Above Week, a week dedicated to promoting diversity acceptance and understanding within the university community. Other tables included resources regarding education abroad, sociology, graduate school and resident life.

Senior psychology and philosophy double major Max Balagtas-Badoy stood at one table, and was there to educate students on gender-pronoun pronouncements. Balagtas-Badoy is a MICA Community Organizing Student Intern (COSI) for LGBT Student Involvement.

“Maryland has a really high rating on Campus Pride, which rates campuses based on how LGBTQ-friendly they are,” Balagtas-Badoy said. “But I think the campus climate itself, while not overtly hostile, is still not openly accepting or openly warm. How to treat people who are trans with respect is not yet mainstream knowledge.”

Photo by Julia Heimlich.
Photo by Julia Heimlich.

The table gave away buttons and shirts that students could wear to clarify their gender pronoun.

Another table at the event handed out information about the LGBT Equity Center on campus, which focuses on community building and providing a safe space for students to meet and talk to other students.

“We have a lot of small groups,” said second-year doctoral student Rajni Sharma, who is in the counseling psychology program. “We also have several different daytime programs. ‘Grad Queer Lunch’ is hosted in our center every Monday. ‘Queer Lunch’ is hosted in our center every Tuesday, and Crafting Hour is every Thursday from 3 to 4 p.m.”

Senior criminal justice major Katherine Romero works as a student assistant in the Leadership and Community Service-Learning Office on campus, another program advertised at the Expo.

“We provide a lot of opportunities for students to get involved in their community, get involved nationally, or get involved in different countries,” Romero said. “I hope our office gives people a place where they can say, ‘Hey, I’m not okay with this social issue. Here is a solution. Here is how I can actually do something about it.’ That’s the only way anything will get done.”

The office also holds a “Voices of Social Change” event every year, where students can listen to a speaker talk about personal experiences and social issue-related subjects. This year’s speaker was Marc Lamont Hill.

“You talk to any student at Maryland, they always say, ‘I came to Maryland because it’s so diverse,’” said MICA assistant director Brandon Dula. “We really want to see students take advantage of that.”