The Buford Center for Diversity and Service Events
Something to Talk About
The Buford Center for Diversity and Service hosted a discussion series (the Buford Dialogues) at which vital social topics were addressed. The series was created in part to invite and welcome the public to interact with the campus community. Views are expressed in an environment that respects and welcomes differing opinions. During the 2018/2019 school year, discussions centered on education inequality in U.S. public education systems, “Islamaphobia," service-oriented global citizenship, the power of social media, women's rights within different cultures, immigration and identity, and voting rights. Buford Dialogues are free and include food.
Furthering the Dream
UF annually celebrates Martin Luther King Jr. Day with week-long public values-enforcing activities honoring the iconic civil rights leader. This year's free celebration open to the greater community featured an alumna who served for two years in Moldova for the Peace Corps; Sadia Akhter Aurna, recognized internationally for her blogging and sustainability efforts; and pharmacy student Olunife Akinmolayan. Also that week, a toiletry drive for CHOPIN Hall was held, as was a worship service hosted by student Christian group Revive and a Buford Dialogue focusing on diversity and service. Read more here.
Intended to celebrate linguistic diversity and to preserve endangered languages, the second annual International Mother Language Day event took place on campus in February with music and students telling stories in their mother languages. Visit UF's YouTube channel to watch a video highlighting 18 countries and 20 languages spoken by UF students.
Each year, thousands travel around the world simply by visiting UF's Koehler Fitness and Recreation Complex. On March 29, a crowd of 1,200 attendees helped celebrate International Night's 50th anniversary. As always, the free community event, made possible by international student, faculty, and staff volunteers, featured delicious cuisine and entertainment highlighting 21 countries. The late Raeburn “Rae" Wallen, a UF world religions professor, and his family are to thank for this annual tradition that pays tribute to the beauty and uniqueness of different cultures.
The Oiler PRIDE Drag Show Benefit, which annually hosts hundreds who surround a stage filled with passionate and colorful competitive dancers vying to be crowned king or queen, champions gender diversity. The 7th annual drag show, held March 19 in the Alumni Memorial Union, again included local drag queen Candy Wantsome as MC, along with former Findlay Mayor Lydia Mihalik, who served as one of the dance competition judges. Proceeds benefited the LGBTQ+ Community Council and UNITED, the University's gay-straight alliance.
Gendered exclusivity and its ramifications are addressed on campus via practical safety trainings and awareness events meant to mitigate violence, dissonance, and hate. UF participated in V-Day, an international movement to end violence against women, by offering benefit readings to help abuse victims; and monologues in honor of Trans Day of Remembrance. Regular Safe Zone trainings taught educators and community members about LGBTQ+ identities, gender, and sexuality; helped them examine prejudice, assumptions, and privilege; and publicly identified willing individuals as advocates. Also, students, faculty, and staff collaborated area high school students on these diversity topics.
“The Power of We" was the focus of the fall 2018 Q Commons, an annual worldwide event providing opportunities for discussion and action regarding various concerns affecting communities. The interactive experience, which included international and local speakers, assisted Christians with how to thoughtfully engage in cultural considerations. More than 140 cities throughout the U.S. participated, including a gathering at UF. UF's event remains open to the public.
Keeping the Faith
Four religiously-diverse speakers enlightened 430 community members thanks to the DeBow and Catherine Freed Contemporary Christian Series. Although founded upon Christian values espoused by the Churches of God, General Conference, UF makes a point to educate the public about different religions. This series invites accomplished religious scholars and leaders to speak on compelling matters that pertain to their beliefs. One of the speakers included Pastor William Reist, a senior pastor at College First Church of God in Findlay, who reflected on campus spirituality. Other lecturers included Jay Rinsen Weik, an associate lecturer at the University of Toledo and Abbot of the Great Heartland Buddhist Temple, UF instructor Greg Mott, and College of Pharmacy Professor Chandra Sekar.
Braving the Past
The Mazza Museum's “Miles of Bravery" exhibit, which will go on display at Cincinnati's National Underground Freedom Center in 2020, anchored Findlay's first community-wide Juneteenth celebration, held June 19, at which several organizations used Mazza-owned original artwork from picture books to recognize when America's last slaves learned they'd been freed. UF hosted a Lunch and Learn with Cathy Nelson, an Underground Railroad expert who testified to Congress on behalf of the Underground Network to Freedom Act of 1997; and worked with the Black Heritage Library and Multicultural Center and the Hancock County Convention and Visitors Bureau to present this educational event suitable for all ages.
To see American pride on full, gleeful display, attend a U.S. Naturalization ceremony; more than 500 did this past spring. University of Findlay hosts a ceremony each year, and it's open to the public. The event includes speeches from the visiting judge and area students on the benefits and obligations of citizenship. A total of 85 individuals from 32 countries took the oath on campus in April, which represented the largest naturalized group UF has hosted during the past several years. Read more here.
To honor the bravery, commitment, and sacrifices made by military veterans, UF hosts a public ceremony that includes alumni who are veterans, recognition of local heroes, and a ceremonial reading of more than 600 names listed on UF's Veterans' Honor Wall in the Center for Student Life. November 2018 speakers included retired Lt. Col. James Woodward and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers veteran and UF Trustee Chris Ostrander.