Summit bridges gap between student groups

Event aims to encourage students from a wide range of backgrounds to engage in cross-cultural communcation



Stephen Bischoff, associate director of the Multicultural Student Services, talks about how the Multicultural Leaders’ Summit impacts campus.

YASMEEN WAFAI, Evergreen assistant editor

Students from various multicultural groups at the university will collaborate at a leader’s summit to promote cross-cultural communication and interaction.

“Just because you’re part of a group promoting the interests of a marginalized community doesn’t mean you know what every group needs,” Stephen Bischoff, associate director of Multicultural Student Services (MSS), said.

MSS used to do an overnight retreat, he said, where student leaders would bond, participate in activities and share their leadership experiences.

That retreat has now evolved into a summit that started in 2016 and has taken place every fall since.

Bischoff said when they first started the summit there was good feedback, but there was also a lot they needed to improve. This year, they want to build around specific topics that draw off cross-cultural dialogue.

He said cross-cultural interaction is a common answer from students when they are asked what they want out of the summit. It is their main goal and they want to know how they can have a better understanding of each other and work together.

“We want to stay in touch with our student leaders,” Bischoff said.

Senior sociology student TJ Alviz has attended the summit every year since it started and is looking forward to this year’s event.

Alviz said he really likes how the summit has progressed from discussions about ideas to working together with other multicultural student groups.

“We’re all WSU students so why should we not work together?” he said.

His favorite part of the summit is the amount of activities that connect students to each other, Alviz said. He has met a lot of influential people who have lifted him up and moved him to burn brighter with inspiration, he said.

“It’s a good way to get insight that isn’t your own,” Alviz said.

Bischoff said one of the challenges they have faced with the summit is coinciding with other events like multicultural Greek recruitment.

“There’s always something because we have so many student groups doing great things,” he said.

Although the summit is targeted toward multicultural student groups and leaders, the summit is open to anyone. For example, someone from the Residence Hall Association recently wanted to collaborate with MSS.

Some groups already have plans for the summit, Bischoff said, but there will also be some breakout sessions and time to address more broad issues.

Bischoff said he is looking forward to the summit and hopes to facilitate the main theme of cross-cultural communication in a meaningful way.

“We have great student leaders on campus as a whole,” he said.