Just by walking around campus, you will immediately notice that UAB is a diverse campus and there are many opportunities to embrace this diversity. The Student Multicultural and Diversity Office creates these opportunities for any student that is interested. Talking with Christopher Jones, the Director of the Student Multicultural and Diversity Programs Office, you’ll learn more about these various programs. He explains that the office purposes to create a supportive and inclusive environment, advocate for historically marginalized students, and educate students about diversity and inclusion. These goals are being pursued this year to grow and strengthen all their programs, especially the mentorship programs.

            The office offers six areas to for students to gain leadership experience through their mentorship programs, program boards, and various educational opportunities. Mentorship opportunities include the Blazer Male Excellence Network, BMEN for short, which is a program that pairs Black male freshman with current successful Black male students. This sets them up to have a successful school experience. Also within mentorship are the International Mentors who work with international students to adjust to campus life. The program boards include the Student Justice and Advocacy Council (SJAC) which plans big multicultural events and the Black Student Awareness Committee (BSAC) which creates a space for Black students on campus. Programs that focus on education are Safe Zone, which focuses on LGBTQ issues and allows students to train other students or programs, and the Diversity Peer Education Program which hosts dialogue events to allows students to freely discuss deeper topics.

            However, these are just the programs that come directly from the office. Registered student organizations can become affiliated with the office to receive additional financial support and resources. The programs are facilitated and planned by students while the office staff gives them advice and prepares them to be leaders. Chris feels like this gives the students the opportunity to connect what they are learning in the classroom to real life situations—he says SMDP aims to “not only make students comfortable on campus, but to also train them to navigate diverse environments.” One of the events that is coming this month is International Women’s Day hosted by SJAC. The programs and events are open to all students and announcements are made through social media and flyers.