Otterbein makes efforts to promote diversity and inclusion on campus
The Office of Social Justice & Activism oversees organizations for minority students
Otterbein University takes pride in diversity and inclusion and strives to give minority students a voice on campus.
Otterbein features an office dedicated to promoting diversity on campus, which is referred to as the Office of Social Justice & Activism, led by director James Prysock and program coordinator Rebekah Nelson. As the director of the office, the majority of Prysock’s work includes holding diversity oriented events on campus, as well as advising student run diversity organizations such as African American Student Union (AASU) and Men of Vision.
"[Office of Social Justice & Activism] comes in to help with the student organizations to create a support system,” said Prysock. Prysock is also an alumni of Otterbein University and played a large role in setting the foundation for diversity organizations that are still featured on campus today. In addition to helping with student organizations, Prysock also hosts events to aid minority students in their journey through college. “We recently did an event with alumni, a lot of students of color were able to connect with alumni who have kind of been there and done that,” said Prysock.
AASU currently has over 30 active members and is held on a weekly basis. AASU serves as a safe space for minority students to discuss diversity issues and break down stigmas created by society. “Only AASU can provide a safe environment of inclusiveness, and where someone can feel like they’re not alone. I believe in that statement,” said freshman political science major Elijah McCutcheon.
Rebekah Nelson serves as the other full-time staff member with the Office of Social Justice & Activism and her work is primarily with Otterbein's international students. Nelson is responsible for facilitating the international student orientation each semester, advising International Student Association (ISA), and overseeing the CARE program; a mentorship program for incoming international students.
Speaking on her role in the office, Nelson said, “I wanted to gauge the climate on campus. How are international students feeling, and what can we do to help? I wanted actual data on that, rather than just making assumptions and hoping that programs work.”
“Last year we had a couple international students who joined late in the semester, and they said they wish they had come earlier because they now had people to hang out with, which they wouldn’t have otherwise had,” said senior public relations major and president of ISA Laurleena Todd.
Though the population of international students on campus is not overwhelming, organizations such as ISA are still available to those who wish to attend.