York is U team gets international recognition


Above: Members of the 2002-2003 York is U team, with Jeremy Greenberg, fourth from left

They already had a lot of pride, but the 2002-2003 York is U spirit team is positively swelling these days. Members were told recently that their competition entry won the silver medal in the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) Student Involvement Programs category.

Left: scene from Multicultural Week

In its winning entry to Washington, DC-based CASE, York is U provided an overview of the University – its size, its multicultural mix of students – and then exuberantly launched into all the activities they had undertaken in the planning and execution of Multicultural Week.

“York’s multiracial student body reflects the energy and vibrancy of Toronto, the most multicultural city in the world. Perhaps that is why the first-ever Multicultural Week at York University (February 10-13, 2003) was such a smash hit!” said Jeremy Greenberg, past Chair of the team and currently coordinator of York’s student alumni programs, who is known around the University for his enthusiasm for all things York.

“In a world obsessed with war and division, York is U…brought together 60 different cultural student clubs to showcase what makes them proud. All week long, flags and national costumes were on display and on the move. Under the theme of ‘Celebrate Diversity’, the event kicked off with an International Food Fair that gave us all a chance to taste the world.”

The York is U team’s comprehensive write-up included the objectives behind Multicultural Week, and well-documented results.

“Multicultural Week was run by students for students and…was created from scratch with a volunteer team that brainstormed to come up with the best way to create something spectacular. We realized we would be battling lack of awareness from the student population as well as hesitation from cultural clubs who had never before heard of such an event,” said the essay.

Right: York President Lorna R. Marsden visiting one of the Multicultural Week booths

“The approach we finally settled on was the ‘two-side illusion’. On one side we pretended to the cultural clubs that this was going to be the biggest and best event at York, and that there was massive interest and limited space. Simultaneously, we promoted the event in the same way to the public, using lawn signs, full color banners and posters, newspaper advertising and lecture hall talks. As a result, the cultural clubs started getting very excited and began promoting the event to their vast memberships.”

The team added, “Our volunteers were masterfully coordinated by some of the key event organizers (who were also volunteers). The strategy was to give a sense of event ownership to those involved, to help steer them through the challenges and cheer their every success.”

The York is U team deemed the event a great success, with a turnout of close to 10,000 students. “We received hundreds of compliments from strangers and participants, and not a single negative comment. We already have serious interest for next year’s event and we cannot wait to get going on that.”