Diversity Ball draws multicultural students to dance floor

By Gisselle Hernandez, Features Editor

Students spent Friday night dancing, dining and winning prizes at the first Diversity Ball, formerly known as Prom Night, in the CFSB Center Murray Room. The event was co-sponsored by Campus Activities Board, Student Government Association, Student Government Diversity Chairs, International Student Organization and office of Multicultural Affairs.

Ifeoluwa Akindele, junior from Louisville and coordinator of the event, said they decided to change the name from Prom Night because it sounded too high school.

“I didn’t really like my prom so I didn’t want to be reminded of that,” Akindele said. “I’m sure a lot of people felt the same way so we thought about it and it was a friend who suggested a ball instead. We [named it] diversity because it’s supposed to be a multicultural prom so why not make it Diversity Ball?”

Akindele said it was her first time planning an event like this and it was a lot of work because of her inexperience. She received help from SGA and OMA, and another student, senior Bryan Orange, helped her coordinate as well.

“Actually, we planned it for last semester, but it got pushed back a couple times because we had to keep revamping and deciding what we wanted to do,” Orange said. “We tried to get as many people from different ethnicities and countries so we can have a diverse audience.”

Akindele said it is important for there to be events like the Diversity Ball on campus because not many people know about all the different countries Murray State represents. She believed it was a good way to showcase the university’s culture.

“I think it’s very important because especially here, a lot of students do come from small towns where they’re not really exposed to a lot of different cultures,” she said. “So they might as well get it here before they go out into the workforce.”

Orange said the most difficult part about planning the event was getting the word out to all the organizations and people from different countries. This is why they decided to partner with International Student Organization for the first time, Akindele said. The most expensive part of the event was the food, which came from university catering. Orange said the expenses were covered by CAB’s budget.

The Diversity Ball was CAB’s last event for the semester and despite it starting at 7 p.m., the dance floor kicked up around 8:30. Students from all corners of the world took to the floor to dance in unison to “Wobble,” before bobbing to a wide range of music played by the DJ. After a few songs, S.G Carthell, director for diversity initiatives, announced winners for a raffle where the winners had to do an impromptu runway walk, cheered on by the rest of the attendees.

Jeanie Morgan, adviser to the Student Government Association and student organizations, said the Murray Room was a great place to host the event because it wasn’t too big or too small.

“The [Curris Center] Ballroom is very large so if you don’t have a lot of people it looks really rough, so I think it’s a good idea to have it here,” Morgan said.

She said the title of the event was excellent because it encompassed everything.

“If you look around, you’ll see we are very well-represented tonight,” she said.

Morgan said in regards to diversity, Murray State is aware of what’s going on in the world and thinks whenever they have something like this, it lets students know the university is aware.

“It [lets students know] that we’re not just in this corner of Kentucky and not paying attention,” Morgan said. “I think our students are very educated as far as world events. I don’t like to think they sort of put their head under a rock or anything like that, but I think that there is always room for improvement; we all need to be more open and embrace other people.”

Morgan said because of Murray’s location, it may be a little behind on the times but she believes it doesn’t make people in Murray ignorant. She said it’s important Murray State is where it is, because it brings more diversity to the area.

  Although 75 people RSVP’d, the coordinators were hoping for more attendees. Morgan said being a Friday night, they just hoped for the best.

“I always get very upset when people say there’s nothing to do, because if you will just look, there is so much going on, there is such a variety,” she said.  “Really it upsets anybody in programming when people say there’s nothing to do or they didn’t know about it because we send out the information.”

Rotimi Bolanle, graduate student from Lagos, Nigeria, said he heard about the event from his organization, African Student Association. He said the event is a good concept because it’s an opportunity for people from different backgrounds to meet, get to know each other and learn things about where they are from. Bolanle has been at Murray State for two years, and said the diversity, since he’s been here, has been good.

“I’ve gotten the opportunity to meet different people from different walks of life,” Bolanle said.  “It’s actually allowed me to learn certain things from different cultures and people from different places.”

Photos by Jenny Rohl/The News