MLC holds Multicultural Affair, first in-person event since March 2020

Over 270 students attended the Multicultural Affair, held on Commons Lawn on Aug. 26 at 6 p.m. CDT.

East House from the side

Mattigan Kelly

East House, as photographed on Oct. 29, 2020. (Hustler Multimedia/Mattigan Kelly)

Katherine Oung, Staff Writer

On Aug. 26, the Multicultural Leadership Council (MLC) held its fourth annual Multicultural Affair (MCA). Geared toward first-years but open to all undergraduates, the MLC uses the MCA as a personalized supplement to the general Student Involvement Fair, which occurred on Aug. 27. 

“We want to show freshmen that the MLC cares about them. Big org fairs are so overwhelmed by organizations that sometimes multicultural students can’t feel accepted in,” junior and MLC President Safa Shahzad said. “Here, they have the opportunity to talk to reps, presidents and everybody older than them that have so much experience.”

The event featured music and free food such as fried rice, chicken and samoas. Students were able to stop by tables to learn about identity organizations on campus.

Per Shahzad, the MCA marked the first large in-person event held by an identity organization since campus events were moved online due to COVID-19 in March 2020. The 2020 MCA occurred through a series of Zoom sessions on Sept. 4, 2020.

“Seeing so many people is kind of overwhelming, but in a good way,” junior and African Student Union Vice President of External Affairs Asya Miles said. “I hope that this will become the norm again and we’re able to be around each other.” 

16 logos of the MLC orgs who attended the MCA
Multicultural Affair 2021 Attendees. (Hustler Multimedia/Emery Little)

The MLC advocates and conducts programming for over 30 identity organizations on campus, 16 of which attended the MCA. First-year attendee Shanay Desai stated that after attending the MCA, he was now interested in joining Project RISHI, Next Steps at Vanderbilt and BhangraDores.

“I learned about Project RISHI,” first-year attendee Shanay Desai said. “I didn’t know that Vanderbilt funds big international trips like that, and going abroad to do service work for people who are underprivileged is really cool.”

Although previously held indoors, Shahzad stated that the MLC decided to host the MCA outside so that students could attend without masks, in accordance with university COVID-19 guidelines

“This year’s event is a lot more interactive,” Shahzad said.

The event also featured giveaways, performances by dance groups such as the BhangraDores and Vanderbilt Lakshya, as well as remarks from Dean of the Ingram Commons Melissa Gresalfi.

“This is one of the best organizations on this campus, in my opinion, because of its ability to bring all different types of organizations together,” Gresalfi said in her speech.

Although the MCA was cut short due to thunderstorms, Shahzad stated that over 270 students attended the event.

“We had meetings with all of the org presidents over the summer,” Shahzad said. “Seeing the impact they’re having on the community and all the effort they’re putting in to be here is my favorite part of the event.”