Director Rodney Sisco '84 has been involved since the Office of Multicultural Development (OMD) started at Wheaton during the 1970s. He's seen the department go through a lot of changes, including multiple names: Office of Minority Affairs, Office of Minority Student Development, Office of Multicultural Student Development. But through the years, OMD has remained committed to being a home for students of color, a resource for ethnic majority students who want to learn more about Christ-centered diversity, and an encouragement to the College to cultivate Christian unity that values and celebrates ethnic and cultural diversity.
In 2013 a new space for OMD was created in Lower Beamer to serve as a place where students can stop by any time for a snack, a cup of coffee and the chance to reflect on our identity as it relates to ethnicity and culture. It's a place to interact with people of diverse backgrounds and together work through questions of what it means to live as the people of God.
"Of course when all the things were happening in the nation and in Ferguson, a lot of students were in here asking, 'how can we respond,'" recalls Sisco. "But that is the joy of seeing our students working together. Our students were thinking deeply about how we are engaged in issues of diversity on and off campus . . . We [the OMD staff] get to speak life into these students as they are thinking through these different ideas, and we get to have the opportunity to push them forward, and also be with them when they're going through challenging times."
OMD currently works with a series of student organizations including:
"Part of being the body of Christ is that we understand what grace is," says Sisco. "Grace says that we are to be patient with each other. We spend time with each other. We're preparing young men and women to know how to address that outside of Wheaton—how to be people who are able to engage with difference and conflict in a way that still says we're doing it as men and women of God."