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Multicultural Affairs Offers Training

Published: October 3, 2016

Pictured (l-r) are director of the Office of Multicultural Affairs James Sauceda, along with assistant directors Christian Lozano and Jonathan Paul Higgins.
Pictured (l-r) are director of the Office of Multicultural Affairs James Sauceda, along with assistant directors Christian Lozano and Jonathan Paul Higgins. Sauceda is the founding director of the Multicultural Center.

CSULB’s Office of Multicultural Affairs (OMA) has inaugurated a number of new training classes for faculty and students including a Social Justice Workshop series.

“The Multicultural Center (MC) has become the taproot for the Office of Multicultural Affairs,” said James Sauceda, longtime director of the Multicultural Center with a B.A. and M.A. from CSULB as well as a doctorate from USC. “We are the root system of a tree that is now flowering and the flower is called the Office of Multicultural Affairs. This is the first time an office of this kind has ever appeared on this campus.”

The Office of Multicultural Affairs stands in a unique position to support the President’s Inclusive Excellence Initiative, Sauceda believes. “As a department, our mission is organically connected to that of the university-at-large. The OMA’s programming reflects this alignment of purpose,” he said.

On Oct. 1, the center presented a program called “Students Talk about Race” (STAR), a six-hour interactive workshop open to all students every semester at no cost.

“This is a signature project of the MC,” said Sauceda. “It is a place where students can learn how to have a dialogue on issues of diversity. It trains them in cross-cultural facilitation skills. They come away with a skill set to get them on their feet and be better equipped to face our diverse society.” Also coming up is a presentation at the Lois Swanson Leadership Academy on Wednesday, Oct. 19.

Additionally, the OMC offers diversity workshops tailored to faculty courses. Sauceda pointed to Health Care Administration’s Brenda Freshman who leads “Issues in Health Care” while HCA’s Nathan Gerrard will instruct “Health Care Personnel Management.” Most recent presentations include two for graduate classes currently led by Social Work’s Agathi Glezakos as well as a pair of diversity workshops for all tutors and advisors in collaboration with the Equal Opportunity Program.

“These classes offer role models on how a center like ours can work with faculty,” said Sauceda. “This is a perfect example of a program being open to saying, `Let’s learn more’ and ‘how can we do this even better?’”

Other new OMA projects due soon include the development of workshops in cross-cultural competency and facilitation skills for the social work faculty. In the preliminary planning stage is a project to work specifically with this year’s 62 new faculty.

“What we don’t have yet is an offering of experiences for them as they come in to what the cultural life of this campus is about,” said Sauceda. “These faculty come from all parts of the country with many different experiences.

“I want a way to welcome incoming faculty every year that alerts them to the resources around these cultural issues,” Sauceda added. “That is what makes the Office of Multicultural Affairs the perfect place to develop those resources. How do we get a university of this size to embrace even the possibility of inclusive excellence? Part of that is nourishing the new faculty’s connection to the campus.”

As part of the OMA’s Social Justice Workshop series running through November, Sauceda will teach two classes that will examine microaggression. The first was titled “Got Skillz: Maximizing Your Cultural Capital in the Workplace” with Terri Armstrong of the Career Development Center that took place on Sept. 26 and “How to Positively Address Microaggression in the Workplace” with Armstrong on Monday, Nov. 14. The workshops explore difficult dialogues such as microaggressions in the workplace in collaboration with the Career Development Center.

“When there is miscommunication between cultures, it is usually is not over something as obvious as in-your-face bigotry,” said Sauceda. “More often, it is matter of individuals never having had a chance to learn something about different ways of being. Miscommunication often comes from information no one has. That is what ‘microaggression’ is. What seems like an attempt at communication to some seems just awkward to others. That is not evil or racist. It is a manageable microaggression that can be overcome.”

Other topics in the series include “Finding Community in Times of Turmoil,” “After Orlando: Reflection and Progression,” “Maintaining Wellness during Election Season,” “Surviving the Holidays” and “Maintaining Spiritual Health.”

Sauceda hopes for a high level of participation in the new training workshops.

“Before we became the Office of Multicultural Affairs, we never had the resources that we have now,” he said. “This level of support allows the center to include assistant directors John Higgins and Christian Lozano. What is different now is that there has never been an office to work as an umbrella to support workshops and organize events like these. This is brand new.

“I hope these training courses make a difference to the university,” he added. “I want participants to leave with a deeper sense of campus community. Our challenge is to make everyone feel included. The self-segregation that comes with a perception of this event for this group and that event for that group doesn’t help us. Even as groups celebrate their cultural roots, we want everyone to celebrate with them. How do we leverage our cultural capital into a positive resource? We are the heartbeat of inclusive excellence.”