NACURH Winner
Month: August 2017

NACURH, INC.

Diversity Program of the Month
Diversity Poetry Jam

School: The University of Texas at Dallas Region: SWACURH
Person in charge: Daniel Cordova Nominator: Kendra Egharevba

Target Population: 100 Time Needed to Organize: 3 months
Number of People in Attendance: 220 Date(s) of Program: 8/23/17
Number of People Needed to Organize: 17 Cost of Program: $4,407.75
On-Campus Population: 5500 Chapter Size: 20

Origin of Program:

This program was hosted by the Student Union & Activities Advisory Board (SUAAB) and the Multicultural Center. SUAAB “is a group of student leaders dedicated to programming social, diverse, and educational events to enhance each student's individual experience at UT Dallas.” Their main purpose is to be a representative voice for their fellow students when creating campus wide programs. The Multicultural Center’s mission statement reads: “The Multicultural Center is committed to providing a variety of quality cultural programs, educational resources, leadership opportunities and support services that enhance the ability of UT Dallas students to achieve success in their personal and work lives to positively impact a rapidly changing and diverse world.” Both organizations value the importance of student programs to embrace social diversity. The Diversity Poetry Jam began in 2015, and considering the immense success of the event it will probably be here to stay for many years to come.

Word Count: 150


Please give a short description of the program:

Diversity is an art because it is a creative expression of not only a community that shares a culture, but also an insightful medium for a person to truly discover his or her identity separate from and in harmony with the exhibition of the world. The Diversity Poetry Jam presented by the Multicultural Center and SUAAB highlighted the diversity of our campus through the artistic talents of students and special guests. The Multicultural Center aims to create events that open discussion and appreciation for a variety of cultures, and SUAAB holds events that promote community and social engagement with residents and commuters. The hybrid of these organizations yields for engaging, fun events that still have an impactful, educational message about our society’s diversity. The acts ranged from poems, ballads, R&B songs, and spoken word; each performer added their own individuality to a variety of topics that many people can relate to in their own unique way. The topics ranged from living with an accent, standing up for international parents, learning to embrace the uniqueness of your name, removing the stigma against different sexualities, uniting as one instead of focusing on our differences in a negative way, and figuring out what it means to love others and still love yourself. The coffee house ambience invited a relaxed, relatable mood throughout the audience and on stage. Students were given the option of having coffee or hot chocolate and could move around and socialize with new people at their leisure as long as it was during the transition period. The host performed jokes that added needed humor to the serious mood lingering from serious poems; his inventive wit made sure that the audience could process the depth of each subject without getting so deep that they couldn’t fully appreciate the next performance. Denise Frohman, a poet who paints the narrative sexual, gender, and race inequality in unique hues and bold strokes through spoken word, was the guest star who ended the show on an impactful note. She praised our student body for our ability to value education while also being able to articulate societal issues. Without events like the Diversity Jam, no one would have the chance to speak up about these issues in an environment where others are eager to listen and discuss peacefully, or showcase their artistic side with tangible support from their peers.

Word Count: 393


Goals of the program:

This program’s goal was to celebrate diversity while embracing our differences as positive attributes of our student body. In a time where tensions are at an all-time high between people who are just “different,” events like these are meant to show us that focusing on divide does not end in one side prevailing, but rather both sides failing in sync with different devastating tones. The goal was also to bring a group of people together on campus to represent how diverse our campus truly is. One could look around the room and see hundreds of different versions of several ethnic and racial groups who all coexist on our campus. Being able to visually see the cultural richness of our student body made the poems even more powerful than if they stood alone because it put peer faces to worldwide problems. Denise Frohman strategically performed at the end, so that her presence did not take away from the artistic perspectives of our own student performers. The balance between having UTD students perform and an established poet perform shows how it doesn’t matter who you are and where you are in your life: we all go through similar battles.

Word Count: 197


Positive and lasting effects of the program:

When I brought my resident to this event, I had no idea how impactful it would be for each of us as individuals and for the both of us as new friends. We talked for an hour after the event was over about our cultural experiences and how they were similar and different. Everyone who came lingered behind to talk about what they loved about the performances and waited in line to meet the performers, showing how an event like this can bring people closer together. Knowing that other people are going through what you are going through, the positives and negatives, can make living on a diverse campus feel less lonely and more inclusive. The performers were also impacted, because they got to see the positive impact their art had on their peers, and some experienced the exposure of their work to a large audience for the first time. Overall, the event began conversations about the diversity on our campus and the cultural tensions beyond UTD. It ignited the awareness for important, diverse perspectives that all students will encounter this year in a multitude of ways.

Word Count: 187


Short evaluation of the program:

This program is one of the most influential diversity events of the year. One’s identity at birth begins as a blank canvas. We tend to be cautious throughout our lives; we pencil in how we see ourselves so that we can erase and edit those perceptions as time passes. My canvas at the end of my life will be one in seven billion, but there are elements to my piece that others share. There are many people whose paint strokes blend in the same patterns and whose pencil marks flow within a similar spectrum of intensity as mine, and the poetry jam illuminated this fact to many of the passionate students in our community. This event was more than a performance, it was a conversation. The audience had an active part in each performance, whether through verbal or nonverbal praise and affirmation. It also incorporated a critical balance between celebrating art and celebrating culture. I love how each performer brought a unique perspective on social issues that sometimes lose the spotlight at a university that places a strong emphasis on academic performance. Overall, this program brought the student body closer together and educated us all about the art of diversity.

Word Count: 200


How could this program be adapted to other campuses?

It wouldn’t be very difficult to adapt this program on other campuses because the layout of the event was very dynamic and open. Larger campuses could adapt our smaller event room setting to an outdoor setting at night, where the dark coffee shop ambience could be appreciated by more people while still utilizing round table style seating. They could also have a guest performer or feature a spoken word group within their student body instead. The event could be entirely student led and hosted if there is a student organization that focuses on discussing diversity. Open mic style can be done, but probably in smaller, monitored settings. Expanding the duration from 2 hours to 3 hours might yield for larger campuses to have more performances without adding too much to the duration of the event. As long as the event embodies celebrating culture through artistic means, it can be adapted in any way that gives representative justice to the diverse student body of that campus.

Word Count: 165



Date of entry into database: 2017-09-05 00:55:10

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