For students interested in connecting with the community at Western Washington University, the Multicultural Center Community Lunches, held every Wednesday in Viking Union 736, offer a chance to learn something new and share a meal.
Each of these community lunches, which began about a year ago, provides a platform to speakers, including faculty, students and individuals from outside the campus community.
The events, hosted by Multicultural Student Services, celebrate diverse identities. November’s focus was on Indigenous peoples for Native American Heritage Month.
Speakers included Deanna Lane, director of Native Arts 360, an Indigenous art exhibit, and Leslie Warren, a wealth consultant who spoke about barriers to generation wealth buildup in minority communities.
“Some of these lunches have themes based on our heritage months, maybe some of these lunches can be celebrations of different observances like International Pronouns Day or World AIDS Day,” said Amy Salinas Westmoreland, director of Multicultural Student Services. “We really wanted to make sure that each of these lunches has an educational component.”
The diverse range of speakers, including speakers from local Native American organizations, offers the chance for students to hear new perspectives.
“Hearing those differences is a rich experience, because the goal is not to convince you of anything, the goal is to open you up and expand your worldview, and to ignite your curiosity,” said Sislena Ledbetter, the associate vice president of Counseling, Health and Wellbeing at Western, and the keynote speaker at Western’s 22nd annual Women of Color Empowerment Dinner.
For many students, the community lunches are a way to get perspectives they may not see in their classes, such as the community lunch on Nov. 8, 2023, which featured speakers who discussed land acknowledgments and their pros and cons.
“The idea that you would get to sit at the seat of scholars that are coming in and sharing from their unique lens, I think, is a gift,” Ledbetter said.
Multicultural Student Services hosted several events throughout November, offering more chances to learn outside of the classroom environment.
The IndigiQueer Fashion show, hosted by Multicultural Student Services, took place on Nov. 15. The event featured Native American artists and several students presenting their art.
“I transferred here, so I didn’t really take any GURs here, I’m only doing my major stuff, so I don’t really get in touch with a lot of these things unless I go to these events,” said Julian Cabrera, a student who attended the community lunch on Nov. 8.
The last Multicultural Center Community Lunch of the quarter, which took place on Nov. 29, hosted a discussion on the history of Native American boarding schools.
“I think Western needs to keep doing these, I’ve only heard good things,” Cabrera said. “People love free food, and I think that’s a good incentive to get people in these spaces where they can learn about these kinds of things.”
Community events such as the lunches will continue throughout the quarter, said Salinas Westmoreland.
Joshua Grambo (he/him) is a campus news reporter and journalism/news editorial major in his second year at Western. Outside of the Front, Joshua enjoys reading, playing dungeons and dragons, spending time with family, and working on craft projects. You can reach him at email@example.com.