Erin Dengler

Faculty, students and President Hodge meet for a voluntary lunch at Harris Dining Hall Tuesday afternoon. (Michael Pickering)

Promoting respect and understanding in schools and communities was at the forefront of Miami University’s Community Advocacy Alliance (CAA) latest outreach effort.

CAA hosted a lunch in Harris dining hall Tuesday called Mix it Up, an event intended to unite Miami University faculty, staff and students who might not otherwise meet and interact.

Mix it Up is a nationwide event designed to identify, question and cross social boundaries. The event was completely voluntary and attracted about 100 people, including President David Hodge and University Ambassador Valerie Hodge, making this year as the largest yet for turnout.

“We wanted people to talk to one another and go outside their usual boundaries,” said Juanita Tate, director of divisional diversity initiatives for the Office of Diversity Affairs at Miami.

Tate has been promoting and executing the event at Miami for the past four years.

In Harris dining hall, each table had a table tent with conversation starter questions, asking why students came to the event and how social boundaries impair interaction with people on a daily basis.

CAA is a group of staff, students and administrators that provides support to students who have felt hostility or experienced an unwelcoming environment upon coming to Miami. The group offers such services as diversity training and lectures.

Even though this year boasted high turnout, event coordinators still wanted to see more students in attendance.

“One of the biggest obstacles was attracting students,” said George MacDonald, assistant director of Housing Contracts and Meal Plans. “We all would’ve liked to see more students there, but we will take it one year at a time.”

Antonio White, a junior and student worker in the Office of Diversity Affairs, attended the event, and sees it as only beneficial for Miami.

“An event like this allows students to network with faculty and staff, and vice versa, and maybe even establish a common bond that might not otherwise been established,” White said.

Many student-organized groups were in attendance, but according to Tate, it still remains a challenge to get others to come.

“If people are comfortable in their setting, they don’t feel like they need to step out of their boundaries, but it’s a great

opportunity for everyone,” Tate said. “Eventually, we want to make it a campuswide event and include all students.”

According to those involved, Mix it Up accomplished what it set out to do – bring people together, even if only for a short time.

“We know what we need to work on for next year,” Tate said. “But overall it was very successful; it was our biggest turnout ever.”