New housing community raise diversity awareness

MOSAIC, a new intercultural living environment, embraces all aspects of diversity

What is MOSAIC?

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.

    A group of diverse students gathered together in conversation.

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.

MOSAIC is unlike other theme housing programs

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.

    Slusher Tower

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.

Learning about diversity and social justice

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.

    Two diverse female student roommates in their residence hall room

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."

  • To learn more about MOSAIC and the associated course — Learning about Diversity and Social Justice — read the course syllabus (PDF).
  • To apply for membership in the MOSAIC community, visit the online application.
  • For more information on this topic, contact Ray Plaza at, or (540) 231-7289.

Terms to know

  • Discrimination
    The act of making a difference in treatment or favor on a basis other than individual merit
  • Prejudice
    An adverse opinion or learning formed without just grounds or before sufficient knowledge
  • Ableism
    Discrimination or prejudice against individuals with disabilities
  • Anti-Semitism
    Hostility toward or discrimination against Jews as a religious, ethnic, or racial group
  • Classism
    Prejudice or discrimination based on economic or social status
  • Heterosexism
    Discrimination or prejudice by heterosexuals against homosexuals
  • Socialization
    The process whereby and individual learns to adjust to a group (or society) and behave in a manner approved by the group (or society)

Avenues to understanding

Learn more about Virginia Tech's approach to:

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