CULTURE & DIVERSITY

The University of South Carolina works to strengthen and sustain an inclusive campus and to provide support, services and resources necessary to meet the social, academic and cultural needs of our diverse student population. The university is committed to building a welcoming, accepting and supportive environment across multiple dimensions of diversity through education, programs and services that promote social justice, awareness and student success.

How do culture, diversity and mental health interact?
In addition to the common stressors experienced by all college students, individuals from diverse backgrounds may face additional challenges such as isolation, discrimination, language differences and financial issues. These challenges can exacerbate other issues such as stress, anxiety and depression.

Differences in cultural expectations, ideological beliefs, sexual orientation and personal identity may create situations where students feel socially excluded or compare themselves negatively to other students. This can cause students to dismiss academic-related accomplishments or set low expectations for success in their college careers.

What are some ways students can reduce culturally related stressors?

  • Build a support network – Sharing thoughts and feelings with others that have had similar experiences can help to relieve stress and find common areas of concern.
  • Utilize cultural supports – Supports that are related to cultural customs and beliefs, such as religion or spirituality, may help to strengthen personal identity. Enrolling in classes or activities that focus on celebrating cultural norms and contributions to history can be useful.
  • Engage in social action – Participate in student groups and events that are focused on a positive cause. Note problems that can be changed to create a greater benefit for people. Make plans with others to develop change on campus and in the community.

What resources are available to support diverse populations on campus?

  • UofSC is an LGBTQ Safe Zone that provides support and ally resources for students: www.sa.sc.edu/omsa/safezone/safe-zone-ally-resources

  • Trans at UofSC: www.sa.sc.edu/omsa/trans-at-uofsc
    • UofSC allows students to notify professors of their preferred name/pronoun. There are many ways to do this: one-on-one conversations, personal emails, and/or OMSA can notify your professors by letter that they may have a trans student in their class.
    • To request letters, please use the electronic form, which will allow you to indicate your preferred name and pronouns and to list the courses and names of faculty, TAs or advisors whom you would like to send a letter. By filling out the form, an email from the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs will be sent to the email addresses you provide. This email will contain NONE of your identifying information and will contain a list of best practices the professor can follow in order to make your experience in their classroom more positive.
  • BlackSpace (formerly known as Jamaa) is a community group for Black students (undergraduate, graduate, or professional) attending USC that is sponsored and facilitated by the Counseling Center. One of the reasons BlackSpace was created was to ensure a safe space for Black students to talk about how issues of culture, race, and ethnicity influence their experience of being a student at a predominately White campus.  https://www.sa.sc.edu/shs/cp/groups/.

What other resources are available outside of campus?

  • The Trevor Project – 24-Hour confidential, toll-free suicide hotline for gay and questioning young adults www.thetrevorproject.org