Members of the Mercer University community are invited to celebrate diversity and share traditions from their own cultures during an upcoming event on the Macon campus.
Diversity Day — sponsored by the University’s Minority Mentor Program, the Office of Diversity and Inclusion Initiatives and Student Affairs-Macon Campus — will be held 3-6 p.m. April 13 on Cruz Plaza. (The event was originally planned for March 18 and postponed due to weather.) The 2020 event was canceled amid the COVID-19 pandemic, but the annual event is back this year with special precautions in place.
The event will include dances and performances by students and outside groups, a fashion show where Bears will show off outfits that represent their cultures, information booths about student organizations, and food trucks representing a variety of different cuisines and dietary needs, said Nicole Small, assistant director of Student Support Services and Opportunity Scholars and Minority Mentors Program adviser.
“It’s not just about the students but the Mercer community as a whole,” Small said. “Everyone has the opportunity to share their culture and the opportunity to learn about other cultures. Diversity Day is not specific to just racial diversity, but it’s also an opportunity for the community to come in many different forms.”
Students come to Mercer from more than 42 states and 56 countries, said Dr. Ansley Booker, director of the Office of Diversity and Inclusion Initiatives. More than 30 different religious and spiritual backgrounds and 120 multicultural student organizations are represented on its campuses.
“It is extremely important for everyone to support and protect diversity by valuing individuals and groups free from prejudice and by fostering a campus climate where equity and mutual respect are intrinsic and embedded in the culture. We do this by celebrating our differences and not ignoring them on Diversity Day,” Dr. Booker said. “This is how we build awareness, acceptance and appreciation for others.”
The first 150 students to arrive will receive limited-edition Diversity Day T-shirts, in addition to other giveaways during the event. Attendees can also stuff a plush animal of their choosing, similar to a Build-A-Bear experience, Small said. During the same time frame, a “Black History Homage” exhibit will be available for viewing inside Penfield Hall.
“It’s an educational moment, but it’s also a community moment, allowing us all to have the opportunity to engage with one another. It gives us a chance to learn about our students and our faculty and staff in a way that we may not have been able to before,” Small said. “It’s another opportunity to create a Mercer-inclusive event, but it’s also something to showcase diversity and the beauty in the diversity that is represented on campus.”