ODI celebration brings music, fun and connection | Nebraska today


Ayela Ruiz was focused on the task at hand – carefully removing the block from the tower without knocking it over.

She was also speaking with Hannah Ridzuan, a graduate assistant in the Office of Diversity and Inclusion at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Ruiz, a freshman, was able to ask a few questions and learn about ODI in a fun and relaxed setting during the premiere ODI at the Union event.

“It gives us the opportunity to meet students and share that we have resources for all identities,” Ridzuan said. “It allows students to make a face-to-face connection with us and with other students.”

Nearby, Zainab Ridha and Hajer Al-Eid, both freshmen, took part in a memory game to see who would find the most matches in 30 seconds, and chatted with leadership specialist Jerri Harner.

Games, giveaways and information were available at various booths around the Broyhill fountain outside the Nebraska Union, along with a welcoming group of diversity and inclusion staff.

“We want students to know that we are there for them. It gives them the chance to meet us, and it’s also a great time,” said Charlie Foster, Deputy Vice Chancellor for Inclusive Student Excellence and Director of the Office of Student Success and Cross-Cultural Services.

The fun atmosphere was aided by Lawrence Chatters, Executive Assistant Athletic Director for Strategic Initiatives, who has toured internationally as dj and spun music for the crowd.

Nkenge Friday, Senior Deputy Vice Chancellor for Strategic Initiatives in ODIsaid that organizing an event at the start of a new academic year was very beneficial.

“We encountered a lot of students — especially freshmen — because everyone explores campus before they get busy with activities and academics,” she said.

The Office of Diversity and Inclusion is always open to students, said Marco Barker, Vice Chancellor for Diversity and Inclusion. The most direct way to connect is through OASISwhich is located in the Jackie Gaughan Multicultural Center on the City Campus.

“It’s a great way for students to come in and have a chance to meet our team members and connect with other students on campus,” Barker said. “I also do open office hours, which is an opportunity for students who have questions, thoughts or observations to meet with me.”

Barker’s office hours are the third Monday of each month from noon to 1 p.m. and the fourth Monday of each month from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m.

For more information about the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, see the website.


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