July 21, 2024

MIO: Its Mission & Role Within Campus Diversity

McKenna Gregg 27'

Heart of David Dancers during 2023 MIO Chapel. Photo Courtesy of Frankie Noguera.

During Chapel on February 19, the Multicultural Initiatives Office (MIO) hosted a celebratory and introspective time of worship. The theme of the chapel was “Power in Christ,” an idea emphasized through a set of worship songs and influential student testimonies. Throughout the morning, different cultural backgrounds were highlighted through the band and testimonies. It brought the goal of MIO to a greater platform on campus and also reminded everyone, no matter their background, of the power Christians have because of the Holy Spirit. 

The mission of MIO is “to care holistically for Gordon’s diverse, multicultural student body,” according to its webpage. The office is dedicated to creating an atmosphere of awareness and celebration on campus. There are five student-led clubs that help achieve that goal, including La Raza, AFRO Hamwe, Asian Students in America (A.S.I.A), Dear Neighbor, and ALANA. These clubs host events highlighting different racial and cultural demographics within Gordon’s student body. Aside from the clubs, MIO also hosts an annual Christmas party, Super Bowl party, and chapel. 

These events are organized by Shari Soza, the Student Services Coordinator of MIO. The Gordon College alumna eagerly stepped into her role, joining the team at the start of the 2023-2024 academic year. “The students,” Soza smiled when asked about her favorite part of working with MIO. She described that she desires to create relationships with students similar to those she had when she was a Gordon student. ”My job is half student relationships and half administration work,” she said. She tries to personally carry out the group’s desire to make students known. 

MIO hopes to make everyone feel seen and celebrated. ”Everyone has a cultural identity and so it matters,” Soza expressed. Within Gordon’s undergraduate students, 34% of the student population is ethnically non-white or international. Each person is from a different background and culture. Given these demographics, it is important to Soza that diversity and inclusivity are emphasized in our community. She wants us to remember that God made us all differently on purpose. Our differences should be used to connect with one another, she believes, and to help understand what makes each of us unique. Diversity should be embraced rather than dismissed. Soza emphasized, “The Lord rejoices in our individuality and in our differences and in our diversity.” 

Black Excellence 2022. Photo Courtesy of Frankie Noguera.

While MIO works towards unity and diversity on an organizational level, students should take on the individual responsibility of opening themselves up to new experiences and conversations, says Soza. The ultimate goal is uniting the entire multicultural student body. She encourages students to go to events and learn about MIO. There are many chances to connect with peers and hear their personal perspectives during those times. Opportunities such as these create a greater understanding of diversity and promote inclusivity. Most importantly, Soza wants us to “Just ask questions.” 

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