The Office of Multicultural Student Affairs (OMSA) creates intentionally diverse and inclusive communities, serving as a bridge builder by engaging students and members of the University community of all backgrounds to ensure personal, academic, and professional growth and success.
We strive to:
- Foster a campus environment that supports the exploration of varied identities and their intersections
- Increase knowledge and awareness of different worldviews to strengthen cultural competencies and their application in a variety of contexts
- Create opportunities to engage in challenging conversations to advance a more equitable society
- Amplify voices and advocate for and with students from marginalized identity groups, with a focus on racial and ethnic communities, to enhance the student experience
The Coordinating Council for Minority Issues, the precursor to OMSA, came to be as a result of suggestions made in 1986 by an ad hoc committee of students, faculty, and staff which was chaired by Professor Dorothy Norton. The Norton Report, as it came to be called, made a number of recommendations which were designed to halt the decrease in Black student enrollment. In 1987, then-president Hannah Gray directed the formation of the Coordinating Council for Minority Issues (CCMI).
In the years since its inception, CCMI grew from an ad hoc committee with a volunteer chairperson to a formal office within Central Administration, complete with professional permanent staff. On November 20, 2002, the name of this office was officially changed to the Office of Minority Student Affairs to better describe our main mission - promoting recruitment, retention, and quality of campus life of minority students.
In 2003 the Amandla Center, "Amandla" is a South African Zulu word for "power"; was established to celebrate and embrace cultural diversity at the University of Chicago. The space has evolved and now it is part of 5710 S. Woodlawn, the home of the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs, the Office of LGBTQ Student Life, and the Amandla Lounge.
On July 1, 2007 the name of this office was changed to the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs. This change reflects both student and staff input, and more accurately reflects the mission and work of the office. The Office of Multicultural Student Affairs recognizes and honors the complex, multifaceted, and nuanced nature of identity.
On February 26, 2008, a renovated house at 5710 South Woodlawn opened as the new home for OMSA and the Office of LGBTQ Student Life. 5710 is a student-centered space that enhances the overall campus experience for students of color and LGBTQ students and will serve as a vibrant hub for students to congregate together, join in programming and community-building, and work closely with staff from both offices.
Throughout the year, OMSA collaborates with a number of University and campus offices and culturally oriented student organizations to ensure that each is aware of and responsive to the needs of undergraduate, graduate, and professional multicultural students.
Certain OMSA staff members are also part of the University of Chicago Bias Response Team, which supports and guides students seeking assistance in determining how to handle a bias incident.
In addition, all OMSA staff members have an open door policy and are available to answer questions and hear your concerns. Students are strongly encouraged to speak with an OMSA staff person to address issues of diversity, equity, and bias on campus. If members of the staff are unable to assist you, we can direct you to someone who can.
To ask a question, raise a concern, or report an incident, contact any of the OMSA staff.
The University of Chicago is a hub of different people and cultures and you can often find these variations often find expression through our student organizations. There are over 40 multicultural student organizations, both for College students, and for Graduate and Professional School students. You can also search the most up-to-date list of multicultural student organizations on the Center for Leadership and Involvement's page Blueprint. We encourage you to check them out and get involved in the activities that interest you.