Collaboration revamps CME BBQ

LEZIGA BARIKOR, Staff Writer

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After moving the event to the Maucker Union to avoid the rain; the Welcome Back Barbeque was in full swing with food, games, performances and a DJ to keep the dance floor moving on Monday, Aug. 20.

“It was really fun,” said Payten Johnston, a freshman undecided major. “I think everybody got to be themselves and dance.”

The event, formerly known as the CME BBQ, received a complete remodeling under the auspices of the newly named Office of Diversity, Inclusion and Social Justice.

Keyah Levy, assistant director for multicultural education services, said one of the areas they revamped was the food. Coordinating closely with food services in the dining center and UNI catering, they were able to expand the available options. There were ethnically and culturally diverse barbecue options such as halal chicken.

“There were a lot of different cultures represented and that was really intentional to make sure all students felt welcome,” said Emily Harsch, the LGBT* student services coordinator. “And it wasn’t just a ‘grab a hot dog, grab a hamburger’ kind of barbeque but that everyone is welcome and we value different cultures here.”

“I think it was fun and exciting to try other cultures food,” said Zainab Illo, a sophomore athletic training major.

Along with diverse foods, students got to enjoy various performances from student groups which included the Lambda Thetas, the Movement and Orchesis.

“I think having some performances from student organizations—that’s a little bit different,” Harsch said. “That is a new spin that will probably expand in future years      [. . .] having students do more performances and have them be active participants too.”

Isabella Betzer, a junior pre-med major, has been dancing with the Movement for almost two years after joining late last school year.

“It’s fun seeing other students perform,” Betzer said.

Betzer described the event as a big dance party.

“When they played Soulja Boy and everyone was getting it, it was so much fun!” she said.

The Movement student group is open to anyone, and Betzer invites students to join them this Tuesday for an open practice in WRC studio 176 from 8:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.

The DJ for the event was chosen based on the criteria  that they would play a diverse music selection, according to Harsch. She said they made sure the selection wasn’t just a typical American top 40 mix, but also included Spanish songs and music that represented different cultures.

The DJ led big group dances like the “wobble” to get as many people as possible on the dance floor.

“It was awesome,” said Alec Schafer, sophomore environmental science major. “It was cool seeing everyone dance. They were really good at it.”

Levy said there were additional games, but due to the weather moving their event indoors, they couldn’t do all of them. Multiple departments coordinated to bring games and tables for different student resources.

According to Levy, the Welcome Back BBQ often averages 600 students in attendance. This year, the goal was to get the new office’s name known to students and to get students connected with the different resources available to them. Collaboration played a big role in making this event happen.

“Over the next semester, you’ll really see a lot more coming from our office that’s unified,” Harsch said. “So while we each have our own office-specific identity, we’re all going to be unified in supporting one another’s work to provide that holistic experiences for students regarding diversity, inclusion and social justice.”

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