Wayne State University

04/13/2024 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 04/13/2024 08:21

WSU recognizes April as Arab American Heritage and Chaldean-American Heritage Month

Wayne State University, in collaboration with the WSU Student Senate, this week issued a proclamation recognizing April as Arab American Heritage and Chaldean-American Month. The proclamation follows Student Senate resolution 2324-18, which recognized the observation, and reflects a shared university-wide commitment to celebrate the unique diversity of our campus community.

"Wayne State has always been a university focused on elevating the voice of our students to foster impact and positive change," said David Strauss, WSU Dean of Students. "We are grateful to the Student Senate for bringing this resolution forward so we can honor the accomplishments and influence of Wayne State's Arab American and Chaldean-American communities."

"For more than a century, members of the Arab American community have been a vital part of life here at Wayne State and throughout metropolitan Detroit, having impacted nearly every walk of life in our region," said Laurie Lauzon Clabo, Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs. "As a key hub for Arab American scholarship and achievement, Wayne State is delighted to recognize and elevate the contributions that Arab Americans continue to make to the advancement of our university, our city and our state."

In March, the U.S. Office of Management and Budget added "Middle Eastern and North African" (MENA) as an official response category for the collection and presentation of race/ethnicity data in federal agencies, including the U.S. Census. Previously, Arab Americans and Chaldean-Americans were categorized as "White" by government agencies. Wayne State has utilized a "Middle Eastern" category in the past for select enrollment applications and will soon add the MENA category to its admissions and employment systems in keeping with the new federal regulations.

Wayne State University President Dr. Kimberly Andrews Espy noted the positive contributions that people of Middle Eastern and North African descent have made to Wayne State and in the Detroit region and reiterated WSU's commitment to the recognition of the important heritage of Arab Americans and Chaldean-Americans.

"Wayne State has long encouraged the official inclusion of those of Middle Eastern and North African descent as a distinct race/ethnicity category and we proudly recognize the Arab American Heritage and Chaldean-American Month designation in this proclamation," said President Espy. "Our Middle Eastern and North African community members are an indispensable asset of our Metro-Detroit region and a critical source of leadership amongst our pluralistic faculty, staff, and students."

The Wayne State proclamation reads as follows:

WHEREAS: The United States Congress has designated the month of April as Arab American Heritage Month, and Wayne State University joins in this tribute and celebration by acknowledging the many accomplishments and contributions that Arab Americans have made in our society; and

WHEREAS: A congressional resolution proclaiming Arab American Heritage Month was introduced to the United States House of Representatives on April 30, 2019; and a proclamation declaring the month of April as Arab American Heritage Month was published by the United States Department of State on April 1, 2021; and Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer issued a proclamation declaring April as Arab American Heritage and Chaldean-American Month in Michigan on April 1, 2023; and

WHEREAS: The objectives of Arab American Heritage and Chaldean-American Month are to create a greater awareness of the contributions of Arab Americans to American culture, to illustrate the diversity of the Arab American community, and to encourage a greater curiosity within young people about the rich history and cultural heritage of Arab Americans; and

WHEREAS: Arab influence is evident in American culture in, among other things, music, art, science, food, humanities, and business and trade; and

WHEREAS: At Wayne State University, Arab Americans have graced our campus community with invaluable leadership and intellectual achievements. They are members of our faculty, our staff and our student body. In recognition of the numerous achievements and contributions made by Arab Americans, we reaffirm our commitment to encourage and support them through equal educational and employment opportunities.

NOW, THEREFORE: I, Kimberly Andrews Espy, Ph.D., President of Wayne State University, hereby proclaim the month of April as Arab American Heritage and Chaldean-American Month at Wayne State University, and I encourage the entire campus to join proudly in this celebration.

The proclamation was issued as part of a larger commemoration of Arab American Heritage and Chaldean-American Month on Wayne State's campus, which will also include the MENA Pre-Commencement Celebration on April 26 recognizing 2023-24 graduates of Middle Eastern and North African descent; a "Sip & Savor" event focused on Arab teas; Arabic Bingo; and a "MENA+ Student Conversation Café," where Middle Eastern and North African students can share their experiences as Wayne State students.