MOSAIC stands for Multicultural Opportunity and Social Awareness Interest Community. It is a new intercultural living environment that facilitates dialogue and learning about the many aspects of diversity, including race, gender, socioeconomic status, ability, sexual orientation, religion, political views, and other forms of difference.
Opening in fall 2007, the community's design encourages students to engage in dialogue about social justice and diversity in a shared academic and residential environment. It also provides tools that enable students to move beyond tolerance to understand and empathize with people of different backgrounds.
While other institutions have multicultural living environments, including Virginia Tech's WORLD community, none has a community with such a broad multicultural and diversity focus. MOSAIC's unique elements include its size (with space for about 200 students), the combination of first-year students and upperclassmen, and a required academic course.
MOSAIC was developed at the recommendation of the Commission on Equal Opportunity and Diversity to address questions about the namesake of Lee Hall, and as a result of student requests for a diversity-focused housing community.
The university's effort to emphasize the importance of diversity also led to the development of the Virginia Tech Principles of Community, a statement affirming the university's commitment to a diverse and inclusive community, which will be an important component of MOSAIC's educational mission.
"It is our hope that MOSAIC will create a civil and just community for Virginia Tech students, contribute to a sense of belonging for underrepresented groups, and send a message to our external constituencies that multicultural and diversity issues are important to the Virginia Tech community," said Zenobia Hikes, vice president for Student Affairs.
Students will take a three-credit course where they can learn from each other about the individual effects of racism, ageism, homophobia, religious intolerance, and other forms of discriminatory behavior. The course aims to help students learn to articulate personal positions on various topics and reflect on their future roles in a global society.
Students will write reflection journals and conclude the class with a socialization paper, combining their own experiences with what they have learned throughout the semester.
Members of the MOSAIC community will also participate in bi-weekly residence hall programs, community-building efforts, service-learning projects, faculty-mentoring programs, and activities pertaining to diversity and social justice. The residential component of MOSAIC allows students to continue conversations and learning outside of the classroom, and the mix of first-year students and upperclassmen will bring different experiences and perspectives to the community.
"I can't think of a better way to promote the Virginia Tech Principles of Community," said Edward Spencer, associate vice president for Student Affairs and associate professor of higher education administration. "This program allows students to live and study them every day."
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