MEPD plants new seeds

Biola’s Multi-Ethnic Programs and Development has divided into two branches.



Samantha Dammann, Writer

After several months of discussion and planning, Biola’s Multi-Ethnic Programs and Development Department works to restructure in hopes of better equipping the Biola community to engage with diversity.

Serving a broader constituent

The department now consists of two branches: Student Enrichment and Intercultural Development and Imago Dei Initiatives. SEID focuses on specific groups within the Biola community with support and resources, and Imago Dei Initiatives equips students and staff leaders in the community to further the diversity conversation.

“The hope is that we can serve a broader constituent,” said Glen Kinoshita, director of MEPD.

Kinoshita explained Pamela Christian, vice provost of inclusion and cross-cultural engagement, initiated the restructuring movement when she took her office in August 2015. Christian listened to the MEPD’s conversations concerning the growing campus and recognized one department could not meet those needs.

Alicia Andre, assistant director of MEPD, and Tamra Malone, director of university diversity initiatives, created SEID, pronounced “seed.” This branch of MEPD has three focuses: Leaders Engaging and Advancing Diversity scholars, affinity groups and the first generation program.

As LEAD scholars, these students receive scholarships for enhancing campus diversity. Affinity groups allow students from similar ethnic backgrounds to meet in a support group.

“Our office is now more focused. It’s really about helping students thrive while they’re on campus: so, looking at different student populations based on retention efforts and our experience working with students, so we can provide more services, and even collaborating with other departments in supporting students while they’re at Biola,” Malone said.

With the goal of supporting more student groups, MEPD created the first generation program. The first generation program targets first generation college students and offers them a plethora of supportive resources. Lorissa Payne, junior English major, works as a mentor in the first generation program.

“I am excited, especially with their implementation of the new first generation program, especially since I’m half first generation myself, and just seeing that they’re starting to focus on an area of life that a lot of people don’t really consider or ever really think about,” Payne said.

vision to build cross-cultural community

In addition to the implementation of these three focuses, the management of programs like Gospel Choir, Sola Sol and Poetry Lounge moved from MEPD to Student Programming and Activities.

“A lot of people that volunteered under me were concerned about what that would look like with events that were historically meant to represent populations at Biola that aren’t as represented,” Payne said.

Payne said everyone became excited about the management transfer once they were told who SPA hired to run the events, because the new managers were students Payne and others knew and trusted.

Imago Dei Initiatives makes up the second branch created in the restructuring of MEPD, with Kinoshita acting as the director of this branch.

While operating as a single department, MEPD tried to reach every member of the community themselves. This created heavy workloads for the department. Hoping to engage the whole community more effectively, Imago Dei Initiatives focuses on leaders within the community. The equipped leaders will then take the information and share it with their constituents.

“The vision is to build cross-cultural community that equips and empowers our students and faculty. We’re equipping student leaders, faculty and staff to engage in conversation, to compassionately engage in human diversity and then to be competent in cross-cultural service. That’s the head, hands and heart,” Kinoshita said.

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