Diversity dinner highlights accomplishments

Departments and campus organizations come together to celebrate diversity

Kieran Kuehn
Staff Writer

Minnesota State University, Mankato hosted the 49th annual Diversity Dinner in the Centennial Student Union Ballroom, hosted by Asian American Affairs Jan. 31.

The event was packed, with over 330 tickets sold, and tables packed full all around the room. Majestic mantlepieces, stunning salads, and lovely lighting greet-ed the guests as they were led to their tables by student staff. Weeks of planning, and several hours of work culminated in a 90-minute event of splendid speech, casual conversation, and a delicious dinner.

The night opened with introductions of a vast vari-ety of staff and supporting members. These introduc-tions by Dr. Henry Morris, vice president of Diversity & Inclusion, include mention of prestigious members of the community such as President Richard Davenport, Student Government President Anisa Omar, MNSU alumnus and St. Paul City Councilwoman and keynote speaker Nelsie Yang, President Joyce Ester of Nor-mandale Community College and a plethora of others.

Supporters from across the campus showed up, such as American Indigenous Stud-ies, the College of Arts & Hu-manities, College of Business, College of Social and Behav-ioral Sciences, and several others. The event showcased a series of achievements such as the minimization of the op-portunity gap of students of color, 8.8% in fall of 2017 to 5.3% in fall of 2018, increased enrollment of students from diverse background, 7% in-crease from spring of 2019 to spring of 2020, and various programs that students may partake in.

After dinner and a brief series of dances, the keynote speaker, Nelsie Yang, took the podium by storm. She opened her speech with a re-peating coda “that our diver-sity is our asset, not a deficit.” She also gave words of warn-ing. “We live in a world where the system, built before you and I ever existed, does not work for us,” said Yang.

She also shared her story of her former life. “We need to talk about how women and how people from mar-ginalized communities have always been the backbone to our community, but they have been put behind a curtain,” said Yang.

She touched on barriers during her rise out of op pression. Even with such barriers, she reminded the audience that “everything that makes us different is a strength.” She also urged students to be involved in the community.

Yang also called for a renewal of courage. “One thing I hope you remember is courage. You’re going to be going through a lot, it doesn’t have to be politi-cally related, it doesn’t have to be community related,” said Yang. “You’re going to go through a lot, and you’re going to need courage.”

The evening wrapped up with well wishes, rewards, and rounds of applause for award winners from amongst the local com-munity for members who stood up to adversity while supporting diversity in remarkable ways.

Header photo: Nelsie Yang, an alumni of Minnesota Sate University, Mankato and a member of the St. Paul City Council speaks during the 49th Annual Diversity Dinner at Centennial Student Union Ballroom Friday, Jan. 31, 2020 in Mankato, Minn. (Samuel Oluwadoromi/MSU Reporter)

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