Student leaders criticize Multicultural Programming director for lack of cultural events

Broward House Speaker and LatinX Student Union President Fabio Cabrera, on behalf of many multicultural student organizations, stated that MP Director Mariana Vallejo did not host enough events with a focus on cultural groups and holidays.


Justine Kantor

Multicultural Programming Director Mariana Vallejo answers questions from members of the House of Representatives on April 15.

Richard Pereira, Business Manager

Several student leaders have recently criticized Multicultural Programming Director Mariana Vallejo for the lack of cultural events the organization held throughout the 2021-22 academic year.

Broward House Speaker and LatinX Student Union President Fabio Cabrera spoke on behalf of the Black Student Union, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the National Organization for Women, and other multicultural student organizations, making their concerns known at the April 15 Boca House of Representatives meeting.

“It is our belief that we would like to see more inclusive events and to also upscale the programming hosted for Black History Month,” Cabrera said in the statement. “We want all students to feel that FAU is an environment where they can see their heritage being celebrated proudly.”

Aside from Latin-inspired programs, Cabrera stated that MP did not host enough events with a focus on cultural groups and holidays such as, but not limited to: Chinese New Year, Native American Heritage Month, or Arab Heritage Month. Instead, they focused on movie nights, karaoke nights, and meditations. 

“We were just kind of wondering, ‘where was the multicultural element in all that?’” Cabrera said. “We felt like the department’s effort to actually listen to what the students want or expect out of this department isn’t being handled with a sense of urgency.”

If Vallejo does not take the criticism to resolve the issues, Cabrera said that he and the RSOs will come together as a community to celebrate and highlight other cultures by putting their funds together and uplifting the community.

“We’ve decided that we’re going to highlight other cultures, because we understand the richness of these other cultures and we have to come together as a community,” Cabrera said. “That’s the promise we’ve made to one another when writing the statement, which was we’re going to help each other and we’re going to make sure that we’re celebrated one way or another.”

Tahj Wilson was one of the six representatives who voted no against Vallejo, who the Boca House confirmed as MP Director for a second year after a 21-6 vote, questioning whether she took the criticism Cabrera and the RSOs voiced in a professional manner.

“I do feel that she took [the criticism] very personally. I still don’t think she has heard and truly understood, and digested what representatives and what other chairmen and chairwomen alike have been trying to get through to her,” Wilson said. “I don’t think she’s handled the criticism that was placed during the meeting in such a great light.”

In a statement Vallejo emailed to the UP, Vallejo explained the purpose of the program is to bring students together – which she feels she did.

“Our purpose as an organization is to hold events that ensure that students here on campus are able to see themselves in our increasingly multicultural community,” wrote Vallejo. “These events are meant to bring people together that might not normally interact because of these differences, and to foster a community where new friendships are forming in spite of those differences.”

Regardless of the type of events MP hosts, Vallejo explained that everyone is welcome to take part in, even if their group is not in the name.

“Each and every one of the events that we held were designed to focus on how the students can interact and appreciate each other, whether indirectly or directly, whether it was a large event or a small one,“ Vallejo said. “We wanted to take this from being a program where events mostly centered around different holiday traditions and make it so that our events can celebrate everyone, even if their group isn’t in the name.” 

Cabrera believes holding people accountable creates a precedent for other multicultural registered student organizations to follow.

“If this wasn’t a perfect example, we need more people to run for these positions because if we want to see more change in student government, we have to be the change,” Cabrera said. “We have to go out and do it. I always tell people everyday, everyday students need to be represented by everyday students.”

Wilson said it’s important for SG officials to vet the candidacy of everyone running for positions of power.

“That reason is to make sure that we do our jobs and have the best people in the positions that they can be most efficient in and that they can get the job done,” Wilson said. “If we’re yes men, we can’t do that. If we don’t hold people accountable, we can’t do that.”

As MP begins preparing for the next academic year, Vallejo said that the organization will commit to doing more multicultural-based programming. She also stated that the organization will send out a survey to see what students want to see, but didn’t provide a specific date.

“We will plan to have meetings with other organization leaders on campus twice a semester to discuss cultural collaboration opportunities and to ensure that we are fulfilling our mission statement,” Vallejo said. “Going into the next academic year, the incoming Multicultural Programming Board will be excited for the new opportunities for events, where we can continue to strive to represent every student on campus.”

Richard Pereira is the Business Manager for the University Press. For information regarding this or other stories, email [email protected] or tweet him @Rich26Pereira.