Dinner inspires conversation between staff and students

Student and faculty introduce themselves at the Multicultural Dinner in the Joan Bice Underwood Tearoom during Human Sciences week. 

Emerson Latham

Iowa State faculty, staff and students from different cultural and ethnic backgrounds gathered in the Joan Bice Underwood Tearoom in MacKay Hall on Wednesday night for the Multicultural and International Student Dinner.

After dinner, the group participated in an open discussion, having conversations about topics relevant to the faculty, staff and students.

The group discussions touched on issues such as gender and race equality and how the students think faculty and staff can better reach out to students who are struggling.

Amy Phan, sophomore in child, adult and family services, said a big takeaway from the conversations were how conflicted she felt about the more controversial topics, such as faculty intervening when they notice a student not doing well in their studies.

“I feel like the struggles I go through are things I need to work on myself,” Phan said. “When I need help, I’ll come out and reach for it.”

On the contrary, many of the attending students said they would prefer if their professor would reach out to them if they noticed something was off.

Many of the Multicultural and International Student Dinner attendees said they have noticed that mental health is a very predominant issue. Students, faculty and staff alike said everyone needs to take more notice in this area.

“Those who think we’re ‘woke’ are waking up all the time over again,” said Carl Weems, human development and family studies department chair.

Jose Flores, senior in kinesiology and health, said he has had a great experience at Iowa State with getting involved in many different organizations and putting himself out there to meet new people.

Flores was a mentor through the Connect Four program. This program is catered toward multicultural students.

“I got an invitation two years ago to do it and I just applied,” Flores said. “I had previously mentored for other multicultural programs. MVP was one of them, Multicultural Vision Program.”

Carmen Flagge, program coordinator in the human sciences student services department, organized the dinner.

“It’s the opportunity for students and faculty to meet in sort of an informal way and get to know one another,” Flagge said. “[…] It’s important for those contacts to start early.”

Flagge said this is a great opportunity for first year students to have their first face to face interaction with faculty and staff.

Flagge is the organizer of the dinner but said it was the idea of former student Toluwani Awokoya, Iowa State graduate of nutritional science.

Awokoya had the idea to start something that would involve interaction between staff and students, particularly catering to the multicultural and international community.

The dinner is a part of the 2019 Human Sciences Week on campus at Iowa State. The purpose of this week is to share information about the College of Human Sciences through various events and activities around campus.

More information on the remaining events of the week can be found on the College os Human Sciences website.