Our campuses all value diversity, which is awesome, NOW WHAT?!
Now let’s step it up and develop those students who are part of multicultural organizations: organizations which are inclusive, diverse and educational.
We need to help build these culturally competent organizations to be leaders on campus so they can educate others. In efforts to educate others, which are not only in their communities but majority students on campus, we need to challenge them. As an advisor for my sorority, I realized it took particular strategies and tools to work with an organization which was so diverse. These women varied in religion, race, culture, socioeconomic status and age. I was incredibly proud to advise this group of strong women on campus that were full of so many bright ideas. And I thought, “How can I make a difference?”
Here are a couple of strategies I used when advising them, that I hope benefit you on your campus.
1. Meet with them on a regular basis. If you don’t know their needs this is one way to find out. Ask questions. For example, hold focus groups or mixers to try and gather as much information as possible. This much attention to detail will express to them that their presence is valued.
2. Foster an open-minded and positive attitude in your department. Be open to their ideas. Push them to new limits and help them implement their ideas in a bigger way.
3. Help them create goals, a mission, and a vision for where they want their organization to head.
4.Create leadership opportunities for them. For example, include them in large scale programs that your office is holding. By collaborating with them on a large scale, these students feel included in projects the institution is spearheading. Students will see that the institution is holding diversity and student leadership as a priority.
– Creating a sense of community could help them stay retained at the institution and hopefully graduate.
– Provide them with a unique training since their organizations are different than others: within their members, their needs, their interests and goals.
5. Shift the cultural norms.
– Make this process sustainable since diversity work is everyone’s responsibility on campus, let’s all share and embrace our roles as advisors.
– Be supportive and understanding. Having a requirement number, for example, in order to stay active on campus may not be fair especially within the Multicultural Greek life community.
– Remember that these are the students that you recruited for your institution and you choose them because they were awesome. So make them feel like they are appreciated. For example, host a multicultural graduation at the end of the year.
Advising organizations is sometimes challenging, but if you have genuine intentions, your students will see your efforts. By far the one thing that helped me in my experience was getting to truly know them and what their goals were. So focus in and value these individuals because they will make your campus flourish.
Good Luck and Continue to Build your Students UP!