The NIU community is invited to attend the inaugural Diversity Ball on Wednesday, Nov. 6, from 6 to 9 p.m. in the Duke Ellington Ballroom of the Holmes Student Center. The formal gala is a celebration of the many multicultural organizations that make NIU a dynamic place to live, learn and work.
“The mission of the Diversity Ball is to join campus leaders together and promote an alliance between student organizations that celebrates cultural variety,” said German Ibarra, NIU graduate student and event founder. “We hope to bring together many people from different backgrounds and provide an opportunity to socialize and experience other cultures.”
Ibarra said the idea for the event came as a direct result of a Conversations on Diversity and Equity (CODE) workshop he attended last fall.
“After the workshop, I spoke with many student leaders and members of [the] administration and there was an enormous interest in something like this,” Ibarra said. “The event will encourage the celebration of differences by creating an environment where everyone and anyone is welcome.”
Jocelyn Santana, director of Social Justice Education, said this event is another example of efforts the Office of Academic Diversity, Equity and Inclusion supports to enhance cultural competence education with student organizations.
“Every year, student organizations mention that there are so many organizations on campus and that they would like to have the opportunity to network and connect with [them],” Santana said. “The Diversity Ball offers an opportunity for connection, community and continued coalition-building efforts amongst student groups and leaders.
The Diversity Ball is open to all students, faculty and staff members. There will be a variety of culturally distinct appetizers, live music and entertainment provided by NIU students.
“I wanted to be part of the Diversity Ball because I believe it is a wonderful opportunity to showcase all of the different cultures that are represented here at NIU,” said Dajhumbay Russell, NIU student and steel pan player who will be performing. “There is so much good that can be accomplished when we come together and celebrate our differences.”
Christine Lagattolla, assistant director of Outdoor Adventures for NIU Recreation and Wellness, shared the sentiment.
“I can’t wait to see what comes from this,” Lagattolla said. “The real meaning behind this social event is to bring people together as a way to bridge gaps and make more connections. We need to share more so that we can be stronger together.”
“It is my hope that student organizations that might not have known or historically worked with each other in the past can do so moving forward,” Santana said. “It is important to actively work on inclusion and to reach across the table or walk across the street and connect with each other. We want our student leaders and organizations to engage with one another and exemplify global leadership and civic engagement.”
Russell said events like this allow Huskies the opportunity to build a better community for current and future students.
“I’m hoping that when people leave this event, they will be more informed about what great qualities other cultures can bring to the table other than their own,” Russell said. “I’m hoping that they will start a friendship with someone they would have never met before if it hadn’t been for the Diversity Ball.”