More Than A Month: Multiculturalism at Stockton

Juan Diego Chapparo and Alivia O'Neill of Los Latinos Unidos talking with students during the Multicultural Celebration Kickoff on Wednesday, Sept. 13.

Galloway, N.J. – “Celebration is much more than cake and balloons. It can be a daily decision and determination to honor your unique identity and make space for the identities of others.”

Olutoyosi “Toyo” Aboderin, an Africana Studies faculty member and alumna of the Communication Studies program, gave a keynote speech that highlighted how Stockton University’s celebration of diversity is “a key form of resistance” on Wednesday, Sept. 13’s event.  

“This takes not only events and dynamic programming but a real-life commitment. A commitment to protecting spaces like this, to actually creating and showing up to these events. Acknowledging what we have and will accomplish and envisioning more than we ever could have dreamed. Real diversity is felt, not just seen.”

Toyo Aboderin during her keynote

African Student Organization, Mexican Student Association and Jovin Fernandez

Shane Moore during his remarks

Jovin with Greek Life

Dianne Stalling during her remarks

Aboderin’s keynote was just one part of the new Multicultural Celebration Kickoff, which included food from different cultures, a Kahoot game highlighting different countries and tabling from various multicultural student organizations on campus.

Jovin Fernandez, director of the Multicultural Center, spearheaded the event to reaffirm Stockton’s commitment to the mosaic of different identities that learn, work and lead here.

While we want to honor the tradition of multicultural month that has been around for 16 years, we recognize that there is a greater demand to meet the needs of our growing, diverse student body; therefore, we are making multiculturalism our theme for the entire year and not limiting it to just a month," Fernandez said. "The institution has done a great job promoting DEI and multiculturalism year-round, but we want to be even more intentional moving forward." 

Featured Student Organizations & Sororities (A-Z)

  • African Student Organization
  • Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.
  • Asian Student Alliance
  • Caribbean Student Association (Kahoot second runner-up)
  • Chabad Jewish Student Group
  • Chi Upsilon Sigma Latin Sorority, Inc.
  • Honduran Student Association
  • Los Latinos Unidos
  • Mexican Student Association
  • Minorities in Law (Kahoot first runner-up)
  • Newman Club (Winners of the Kahoot!)
  • Queer & Trans People of Color Society
  • Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc.
  • Stockton Entertainment Team
  • Unified Black Student Society

Fernandez also introduced the new Cultural Heritage Awareness Month Planning (CHAMP) Committee, which was created to centralize and expand on the various efforts across campus for celebrating the different heritage celebration months that occur throughout the year. She encouraged the whole campus community – students, staff, faculty and alumni – to consider how they can get involved. 

“We just wanted to ensure consistency across the board in making this campus a more inclusive environment and, most importantly, create a space where we can really promote multiculturalism,” Fernandez said. “It’s not just important here at Stockton or for you all as college students, but it’s a way of life, of being and how we look at life.

"Expanding our efforts and maximizing what is being offered is critical. While we recognize that change and deviating from traditions can be challenging, this will be an excellent shift to maintain and build on the excellent work that has been done on this campus."

These sentiments were echoed throughout the speeches of the event.

“With Jovin’s introduction to the CHAMP committee, we’re going to continue to spread all of our cultural awareness work beyond the traditional sects,” said Jeff Wakeman, director of Student Development.

“Diversity widens your social circle by expanding the collection of people that you associate with and enhances social development,” Dianne Stalling, associate director of Student Development, said before sharing her experience with the Caribbean Student Association’s recent trip to St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands. The club impressed the national Caribbean Studies Association so much that their president reached out to the university to invite them back to another conference.

“Remember these words from Maya Angelou: wherever there’s diversity, there is beauty and strength,” said Shane Moore, Health Sciences major and chairperson for the Student Senate’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion committee. “Let these words resonate with you and let them guide you through both your college journey and life.”  

Flags from different countries on a table
Flags like these and many more were displayed prominently on the tables at the Multicultural Brunch in the Campus Center Event Room.

Galloway, N.J. – “We are not a melting pot; don’t buy that idea. We are a cultural mosaic.” 

Distinguished professor of Criminal Justice Janice Joseph’s words resonated with the audience as she addressed the crowd of students, staff and faculty in attendance for the kickoff brunch of Multicultural Month.

The Multicultural Brunch is a staple program at Stockton University that has occurred for around 20 years and, in Joseph’s words, has grown stronger every year. 

“Multiculturalism is about diversity, inclusion and acceptance,” Joseph said. “As we celebrate this month, students and faculty are having all kinds of events. Please attend them so that you can learn a lot more about the different cultures here at Stockton.” 

Members of the Stockton community got a chance to listen to speeches, eat food from different cultures such as arancini (fried rice balls with cheese) and Caribbean jerk chicken, and mingle with each other. 

– Story by Loukaia Taylor

– Photos by Susan Allen