Hegde: UI students should embrace diversity

While the UI offers many spaces for students to encounter various cultural experiences, it is always a struggle for cultural organizations to get students to attend the events.


McCall Radavich

Sharukh Hasan and Ariana Dewan are fed in Mehndi Night’s pre-wedding ceremony in the Old Capitol Mall on Friday, Feb. 12, 2016. The Pakistani Student Alliance and the South Asian Student Alliance sponsored the event.

Suchaeta Hegde, Opinion Columnist

It is the middle of the day. You are scrolling through Facebook or Instagram — pick your favorite — and see an organization promoting a cultural event. What are the chances that you will look into the event, mainly to see if there is free food, and proceed to scroll past?

If the last sentence felt like it was targeted, you are not alone.

Sure, it is understandable. College students have busy schedules and plenty of commitments — there isn’t time to keep track of all the events that take place on campus. I am not denying that there are alternative activities to consider — it just needs to be acknowledged that students should be better at trying to attend events that promote foreign cultures and celebrations of diversity.

Related: Multicultural Showcase features art and collaboration

Prisma Ruacho, the coordinator at the Asian-Pacific American Cultural Center, said student attendance at the cultural houses is important for both the centers and the students.

“In all the cultural centers, it is the same people coming to the events every time,” she said.

While loyal attendees are never a drawback, Ruacho said, the lack of new people prevents important conversations from taking place.

“There aren’t a lot of perspectives coming in” she said. “We want to provide those opportunities for other people to learn about our cultures and [show] why we are more than the stereotypes that they create.”

It’s not all fun and games when it comes to  cultural events on campus; there is a chance of better understanding a group of people with every event attended.

Asiya Mohammed, a co-vice president of large events for the South Asian Student Alliance, said some factors could affect attendance at events.

“If your [organization] is known, the events that you arrange are recognized, making your event more appealing to the people who hear about it,” Mohammed said. “If you are marketing an event that is part of a culture that has less awareness [to begin with], you have to start by educating the student body, and the student body has to be receptive to that, which can be a struggle.”

The University of Iowa features dozens of cultural groups that are prevalent or rare in American society. However, the level of prevalence of a certain cultural group does not make it any less important for people to further educate themselves on these backgrounds.

While students could be more active in their efforts, cultural organizations have reached out in a plethora of ways. Mohammed said the easiest way to find South Asian Student Alliance’s latest events are through its Facebook page. The cultural houses on the West Campus display their events on the UI Events Calendar and have Cambus routes designed to drop students off at a stop that is conveniently located in the vicinity of all of the centers. The UI has long been a place to grow and enrich oneself through education — it would not hurt for students to apply this ideal to the dozens of organizations trying to shine light on their cultures.