Office of Inclusion and Engagement welcomes students to campus


Catherine McKean

Members of CLE served shaved ice at the Hispanic Heritage Month kickoff.

Catherine McKean, Arts & Life Editor

On Sept. 13, the Class of 1994 Office of Inclusion and Engagement (OIE) hosted a celebration in Lenfest’s Kamen Gallery to welcome the undergraduate class of 2026 and the law class of 2025 and congratulate students on completing their first week of classes.

The celebration was casual, and students sat at tables and enjoyed refreshments while talking with OIE officers, university faculty and upperclassmen interested in getting to know them and their backgrounds.

Fiorela Giraldo Prado de Lewis, who serves as OIE’s senior program coordinator, remarked with delight on the variety of university faculty present at the event.

“This celebration, among others, was my summer project to expand OIE’s reach within the university and surrounding community,” Giraldo Prado de Lewis said. “President Dudley and his wife have been to this celebration before, but now the deans are attending, the counseling center is represented and departments are more aware of what we do. We are also beginning on working to get the law school involved by inviting law students to OIE events.”

One event that Giraldo Prado de Lewis was particularly excited to invite students to was the Hispanic Heritage Month Kickoff that took place on Sept. 15 on Cannan Green.

The kickoff, which was co-sponsored by OIE and Student Activities and organized by the students of Comunidad Latina Estudiantil (CLE), was an outdoor celebration where students connected with Hispanic clubs and culture. The fair weather paired with free food from the Tres Veces Feliz food truck attracted a large number of students to the event.

“My favorite thing about our kickoff is seeing everyone from all different cultures come together. You don’t have to be Hispanic to get involved,” said Jessica Pachuca, ‘25, a member of CLE. “We work with so many of the cultural clubs and departments to bring events like this to campus.”

CLE, which was known as Washington and Lee’s Latinx Student Organization (LSO) until this year, will continue its celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month with additional events ending in Baile on Oct. 8.

“It is important to present diversity as not just programs, lectures and orientations,” Giraldo Prado de Lewis said at the kickoff. “Diversity should also be fun and involved.”

OIE also collaborated with the LGBTQ+ Resource Center this month. With help from Assistant Director of OIE for LGBTQ+ Support Jake Reeves, students were invited to an annual fall picnic on Sept. 8. 

The picnic was well-attended by first-year students and upperclassmen alike, and a variety of student organizations such as the Queer Liberation Alliance (QLA), Sexual Health Awareness Group (SHAG) and Gender Action Group (GAG) were represented in-person alongside Rockbridge County resources.

The Student Association for Black Unity (SABU) held its annual community cookout the following weekend on Sept. 11. The event was held in the Sankofa theme house, a space for solidarity amongst students of the African diaspora and their allies. The cookout’s food, music and games created an environment in which students could have fun while getting to know each other.

Another OIE program in September was the East and Southeast Asian’s Mid-Autumn Festival, which was brought to life by Washington and Lee’s Pan-Asian Association for Cultural Exchange (PAACE) on Sept. 17. The festival is also referred to as a moon cake festival in its home countries, and attendees of the event were welcome to snack on as many moon cakes as they could. 

“Food definitely brings people to these events,” said Ngoc Le, ‘24, who went to many of September’s cultural celebrations. “It’s so easy to share culture through food. I love seeing the people, but I especially love the food.” 

The Office of Inclusion and Engagement will continue its work to create an environment in which all students feel welcome on Washington and Lee’s campus.  OIE will advertise future cultural events on its Instagram page, @wluoie.