Multicultural liaison officers host event to bring in students

Jacey Goetzman

In the Union Drive Community Center, the university’s multicultural liaison officers (MLOs) gathered to allow students the opportunity to get to know them earlier today.

“As MLOs, we wanted to do something to – as we say – celebrate the beginning of the academic school year,” said Audrey Kennis, the MLO for the College of Design. “[For us, that was] giving the students a chance to come together, really learn what we do, and create a space where they feel safe, and they feel they’re able to be fully authentic and present and just have fun.”

Card games were present; among them, Taboo and Apples to Apples. Laughter and music filled the room and many of the attendees’ smiles were wide as they tried to guess the word on the card.

“What you slid down as a kid,” one of the liaison officers tried to hint as the 60-second timer went off. She was met by a resounding echo of oh’s when she explained the word was ‘bannister.’

Student attendees already familiar with the multicultural liaison officers attested to the importance of their MLOs.

“[My MLO] has helped me out with a lot of issues I face,” said Patricia Mendez, a senior in animal science. “She’s [helped] me with my academia, maintaining that I stay here because I did suffer a family loss a year ago […] so that was a transition. Things get complicated, and she helped me ease into things back again.”

MLOs make themselves available for any number of issues that students may face.

“We are a resource. What we do is try to help students navigate the university,” Kennis said, “[and] maybe if we don’t have the resources, identify where there are other places on campus where they can find the answers or get the information they need.”

The questions can range anywhere from academic resources to leadership opportunities to personal issues – all of which MLOs are happy to help with.

For some, mere representation is key.

“Having students who can identify someone who looks like them is really important because we’re able to share similar life experiences,” said Der Vang, the MLO for Liberal Arts and Sciences. “I think it’s really important for students who don’t necessarily see that in the classroom.”

David Rojas Rosario, a junior majoring in finance, attends church with his MLO and enjoys the one-on-one interaction. The feeling is reciprocated.

“I really enjoy working with students,” said Dr. Brenda Thorbs-Weber, the MLO for the College of Business. “No day is the same.”