By Sarah Gallaher | Staff Writer
Baylor Multicultural Affairs is making big changes — starting with a new podcast called “Cub Talk” and a series of “Leave Your Mark” training sessions for students. The intent of these programs is to promote cultural literacy and open conversation among students.
Since she joined the Multicultural Affairs staff, Priscilla Serrato, senior coordinator for education and training, has made it a priority to expand the department’s endeavors. Serrato said “Cub Talk” aims to “create a space where voices are being heard.”
“[Multicultural Affairs] is not just a department that is open to minority students. It is open to all students,” Serrato said. “We just want to be able to provide that space for all of our students. With ‘Cub Talk,’ we also want to be able to provide that space where they can come in and just feel comfortable and safe.”
Dallas junior Matthew Villagomez introduced the idea of “Cub Talk” after joining the Multicultural Affairs staff as a student facilitator last spring. What started as a vague idea grew into an informative podcast, providing opportunities for students and faculty to enter conversations about diversity, equity and inclusion.
“‘Cub Talk’ started as a dream between our student facilitators,” Serrato said. “It’s really just an opportunity for students to hear from other students, for our student facilitators to go out and speak to other students about what they’re experiencing … providing a space where they can come in and safely speak about any concerns or maybe speak about things that are happening on campus.”
The first episode of “Cub Talk” is set to be released via Instagram on Oct. 11, and subsequent episodes will be released every Wednesday. Each episode will highlight different subjects surrounding culture.
The Multicultural Affairs department calls itself “a place for everyone,” and its office has become a safe space for many students, particularly the minority student population.
Villagomez, who will host “Cub Talk,” said he plans to highlight multicultural student organizations, who he says are often underrepresented on campus, giving them a dedicated spotlight among hundreds of student organizations.
Additionally, Villagomez said he plans to invite individual students and faculty members to speak about the importance of diversity and the many issues surrounding it.
“We also want to get a couple faculty members on there just so students know there is faculty here that do care about the multicultural aspect and identities of students,” Villagomez said.
Serrato and Villagomez said they hope “Cub Talk” will allow students to find a community that relates to their experiences and to learn from those of others.
“‘Cub Talk’ is not solely for a specific group, but we’re hoping that it just reaches anyone and everyone that can relate to our students, and those who cannot relate to our students but want to interact with our students … and stand with them,” Serrato said.
“Cub Talk” is unique, as it serves as an open forum for students that can spark meaningful conversation. Faculty can also tune in to gain a deeper understanding of the issues students face.
“I’m not a podcast listener. I’m going to listen to it, though, because I’m interested in hearing the stories of our students,” Tranquility Gordon, assistant director for engagement in Multicultural Affairs, said.
The podcast’s launch is not the only change coming to the Multicultural Affairs department. The “Leave Your Mark” program, which began in 2016, is offering introductory-level diversity training for students after the pandemic caused the program to shrink. Serrato said that under her leadership, Multicultural Affairs intends to do a hard launch of the training, hitting it with “full force” by offering 200- and 300-level training in the future.
“[‘Leave Your Mark’] does cover topics such as cultural humility, cultural competence and microaggressions,” Serrato said. “It’s an introductory course. It goes over definitions, examples of how we can feel about microaggressions inside or even outside of the school setting.”
Serrato said more students, student organizations and faculty are participating in the training this semester — a positive statistic. Similar to “Cub Talk,” Gordon said the “Leave Your Mark” program will facilitate meaningful conversations among peers.
“It has become this beautiful opportunity for students to share their stories with one another,” Gordon said. “I mean, I think that the peer-to-peer training with our student facilitators is probably one of the most powerful ways that our students are able to learn and even see themselves in this training and recognize that they have a voice, and they can use that voice for good in creating a caring community here on campus.”