September 6, 2012
Cheryl Reitan | Associate Director of External Affairs | 218 726-8996 | firstname.lastname@example.org
Christiana Kapsner | UMD Public Relations Associate | 218 726-8830 | email@example.com
Susana Pelayo-Woodward | Director of Office of Cultural Diversity | 218 726-8444 | firstname.lastname@example.org
UMD’s Multicultural Learning Community
College students across the country are invited to sign up for on-campus housing choices that appeal to their interests and talents. At UMD, the Multicultural Learning Community (MLC) is an optional residential housing choice that is beginning its second year with 25 freshmen.
The MLC began in Fall 2011 with students who sought to live and learn in a community of individuals from diverse backgrounds. The Campus Climate Initiative, established by the newly appointed Chancellor Lendley C. Black in Fall 2012, led to new programs that included the MLC. The initiative also incorporated new processes and policies to create a positive and inclusive campus environment that values and supports all students who study and work at UMD.
"Students participating in the MLC program are required to take UMD seminar, participate in social justice discussions and attend lectures, films and cultural events such as the soul food dinner, arts of Asia, fiesta, and feast of nations," said Susana Pelayo-Woodward, co-chair of the Campus Climate Initiative and director of the UMD Office of Cultural Diversity. "There is an emphasis on community, as well as building friendships through a variety of activities."
In order to prepare students to live in a complex and diverse world, the program focuses on enriching the MLC student experience. Several departments and programs have partnered with the MLC initiative, including the UMD Alworth Institute Lecture series. For the Fall 2012 program, the students have been asked to choose Alworth Institute lectures and presentations that interest them. The UMD seminar class and social justice discussions are currently required. During the pilot year, attendance was optional, but according to results from surveys and focus group meetings, the majority of MLC students agreed that the discussions and the class should be mandatory.
The positive survey and focus group results also confirmed the success of the program. One MLC student noted in the anonymous survey that "the best part of living in the MLC was that the environment was comfortable to live in with others who were also willing to learn about a different culture." Many students voiced similar thoughts, as well as how the MLC community helped them grow and understand how different cultures bring strength and insight to daily living, working, and learning.
"It is our responsibility to educate students, and provide them with the knowledge and skills necessary for their success," said Vice Chancellor of Student Life Lisa Erwin. "It's important for students to experience working with diverse teams. Every student, regardless of their background, gains from the MLC experience."