October 3, 2005

Multicultural Weekend Draws in C.U. Prefrosh

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Two-hundred ten prospective students of underrepresented multicultural and socioeconomic backgrounds from 22 states and Puerto Rico were introduced to the Cornell community this past weekend through Cornell Undergraduate Admission’s Multicultural Visitation Program (MVP). These events coincided with Admission’s Native American Hosting Weekend, whose participants joined the MVP activities.

MVP wrapped up Diversity Week, the campus-wide fifth anniversary celebration of Cornell’s adoption of the “Open Doors, Open Hearts, Open Minds” statement on diversity and inclusiveness. The ideology of the program directly correlates with that of the diversity arches on campus, said Justin Davis ’07, president of Black Students United.

The program targets Early-Decision applicants and high school seniors still unsure about applying to Cornell. Prospective students were informed of MVP through e-mails, regular post, alumni and CU IMAGE (Cornell University Increasing Multicultural Admissions and Gains in Enrollment) phone-a-thons. Participants stayed on North and West campus and ate for free in the dining halls.

“Cornell can be somewhat of a culture shock to students who come from different cultures and walks of life,” Davis said. The University’s reputation as a predominantly white, prestigious Ivy League institution can intimidate multicultural students into not applying, he added.

“My daughter thought no one would be friendly and that people would be uppity,” said Trina Johnson, from Detroit, MI, whose daughter partook in the MVP activities.

The program aimed to allay these fears, foster the assimilation of prospective multicultural and socioeconomically diverse students into Cornell life and show that Cornell welcomes all cultural identities.

“This weekend, if I meet really nice people, people that are like me, I’ll apply,” said Ricardo Rivera, a participant in MVP from outside Washington, D.C.

The program familiarized students with the University’s academic programs and resources, student services, admissions policies and financial aid through an itinerary including information sessions, classes and academic presentations. Prospective students were invited to attend a wide variety of courses in all seven colleges, from HADM 236: Culinary Theory and Practice, to BioEE 154: Intro to Oceanography.

“The MVP lets students see Cornell on a personal level,” said Ashley Tisdale ’09, who participated in Admission’s Diversity Hosting Weekend, Admission’s Spring Semester effort to help already-admitted students decide on enrolling at Cornell.

Opportunities to facilitate social interaction between prospective and current Cornell students were planned: NAACP and CU IMAGE hosted an event showcasing student talent Saturday night and Delta Sigma Theta sorority and Omega Psi Phi Fraternity organized a charity date auction benefiting a Hurricane Katrina fund and a local scholarship.

Sherise Rogers ’09 visited Cornell last year via the MVP and described her weekend as an “awakening experience that put everything in perspective” and “brought the view book to life.

Since its inception approximately a decade ago, the MVP has greatly changed. This year MVP drew in the greatest number of participants in its history. The program began as college-specific and has since developed into a University-wide initiative. Increased numbers of enrolled multicultural students as presented by the Vice Provost for Diversity and Faculty Development’s Inclusiveness report can be attributed, in part, to efforts such as the Multicultural Visiting Program.

Archived article by Jessica DiNapoli
Sun Contributor