Center for Multicultural Affairs fosters diversity

Students dance at the 2009 Latino Heritage Month opening celebration: Flavors of Latin America. The Center for Multicultural Affairs, which is hosting the Latino Heritage Month, also hosts a fall feast for the Native American community.


Are you a part of a student organization and have an awesome idea for an event, but lost on how to go about putting it together? The Center for Multicultural Affairs might be a great place to start.

The Center for Multicultural Affairs is dedicated to planning and implementing educational and cultural programs that improve campus climate and enhance community life on campus.

Charneesa Paige, better known as Charlie to students, is the program coordinator at the CMA office. She works closely with students to help organize events for their organizations.

“[The CMA office] is a department, but we’re so student focused because we work to provide student programming that students take a part of and participate in,” Paige says.

Right now, the CMA is hosting the Latino Heritage Month and is working closely with the Latino Student Association and the Latino Advisory Council in order to host an array of events for the celebration.

Derek Ogletree, studying network and IT administration, loves to hang out in the CMA office and has taken part in the salsa lessons that were put together with help from the CMA.

“[The Center] provides me avenues for discovering cultures and customs, food and music that are different from my own and educating me on those people and cultures,” Ogletree said.

Along with working with students, the CMA also works with members of the community to host one of the biggest events of the school year.

“The CMA is responsible for the precedence luncheon,” Paige said. “The component [is a part] of the MLK Celebration and it’s one of the premiere events that takes place on campus.”

“It brings together community members, the EMU community, state and local political officials, and people who really advocate for the university. It’s definitely in the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.,” Paige said.

Another celebration that brings out a record number of people is the Native American Fall Feast.

“We had people spilling out,” she said. “We had to set up tables and chairs in the hall on the 3rd floor [in the Student Center]. Community members and students look forward to it every year.”

For the students who aren’t sure what student organization to join, they can always mingle with members of the student organizations that work closely with the CMA at one of their many events.

One event Paige is really excited about is a lecturer from another university coming to EMU next month to discuss hip hop, a music genre every culture has an opinion about.

“We are bringing this awesome lecturer on campus by the name of Michael Benitez Jr.,” Paige said.

“He is a doctorial student and education leader at Iowa State University. He is doing a presentation on hip hop and activism.”

The presentation, “More than Beats and Rhymes: Hip Hop as Agency for Transforming Consciousness and Activism, and Education,” will be hosted on Tuesday Oct. 13, a day before the closing of Latino Heritage Month, which ends with a salsa night.

The CMA is one-fourth of community involvement and is affiliated with the Lesbian Gay Transgender and Bisexual Resource Center, the Women’s Center, and the VISION (Volunteers Incorporating Service Into Our Neighborhoods) office.

In addition to providing help and services to student organizations, the CMA has a multicultural library that students can use for resources and has a university suite students can use to hold meetings. The office is also in the process of developing a student leadership component.

“It’s a place where students can come and grow,” Paige said. “I think if you really want to engage the entire college process then you really need to step outside of the entire classroom and get involved in different cultures.”

“Learn your social justice voice and learn what you’re passionate about. It can be done here in the CMA office.” Paige said.

For information on how the CMA can help your student organization, call the CMA office at (734) 487 2377. Or visit

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