Samford Student Government Association (SGA) is the student organization that works to provide for students and act as their voice at Samford. One of the committees that makes up the organization is the Multicultural Affairs Committee or MAC, which is part of the Executive Branch of SGA.
MAC’s main purpose is to act as diversity trainers for students and organizations around campus. The committee is made up of 14 members and meets bi-monthly to discuss its pillars.
Cultural competency, cultural sensitivity, and cultural humility are the three pillars that the MAC committee is trained on and trains others on. Cultural competency is the ability to understand where somebody is coming from based on their culture. Cultural sensitivity is understanding others in their different experiences. Cultural humility is being a selfless leader, being humble but being firm.
The Executive Director of Diversity (EDOD) heads the committee as one of the position’s many responsibilities and is a recent position. Akeim Thames, a junior, is this year’s EDOD and is the second student to fill this position after it was established last year.
Thames joined the organization in his freshman year and believes that it is “definitely a place I found a home with” and through it “we are teaching our lives in a way.”
“Sometimes being the only person of color in the classroom I can come to these MAC meetings and feel secure… and be empowered,” Thames said.
The committee’s goal is to reach as many organizations each semester during the school year.
“[It is] to make campus and ourselves understand the duty of diversity and really the beauty of it as well,” said Thames.
This year, the committee went through a change with a majority of the members being new, and only six returning members. Junior Kennedy Russell shared how being a member of MAC has impacted her.
“My experience with MAC is indescribable. The people I have met in this group have truly made me into the person I am today,” Russell said. “This is a group with so many different ideas and opinions and we are able to have real discussion without feeling unsafe.”
With its main purpose of being diversity trainers, MAC hosts training sessions on its three pillars that organizations either sign up for or are invited to by MAC. Training is typically 30 to 45 minutes and is composed of a lecture, interactive discussion, game and final discussion or questions. It is open to all organizations, as well as professors who want to host training for their classes.
Organizations that are the main focus for MAC are groups that have an impact on incoming students such as the Student Recruitment Team, Student Senate, Student Judiciary Council, Interfraternity Council and Panhellenic Council.
MAC’s biggest event is a semester event called Common Ground, which is a roundtable discussion for students to have open discourse and conversations on various topics. Last semester, the topic of discussion was about mental health. Senior Taijah Clark enjoyed being a part of the Common Ground event.
“I’ve had a great experience with MAC so far,” Taijah said. “The most memorable event I did was common ground. I really loved facilitating a conversation about mental health and hearing different stories about it.”
“A key takeaway from MAC is that it is a group comprised of different races coming together to make Samford a more inclusive space.”
Overall, MAC members are trying to facilitate a more inclusive and diverse Samford so it can be a better place for all students and community members.
“Students walk away feeling [and] hearing new perspectives and seeing glimpses of other students’ lives that they may never have done so walking down the sidewalk.” Thames said. “Being a Christian university, being made in God’s image, He emphasizes diversity, and so being pure diversity trainers really just emphasizes utilizing that component of Christ.”
The next Common Ground is planned for the end of March.