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Emil Lorch Papers: 1891-2004 (Majority of material found within 1891-1963)
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Biography

The 1970 Black Action Movement (BAM) at the University of Michigan (U-M) sparked a legacy of student activism at U-M that challenged the University's lack of diversity, and its failure to support Black students and other students of color. As a result, U-M began to address concerns around admissions, space, and support. Shortly after the Trotter House was established in 1971, the Office of Special Services and Programs began. This unit had staff advocates that served a variety of ethnic constituencies, and the office acted as a central area for communities of color at U-M.

In 1977, the name changed to the Office of Minority Student Services (MSS) in order to meet the academic and social needs of students from historically underrepresented and marginalized ethnic and racial groups. MSS added to its campus programming by establishing a new division to support the diverse student population. The Office of Multi-Ethnic Student Affairs (MESA) was set up in 1983, as a campus and community environment for minority and multi-ethnic students to succeed. It aims to support students through a variety of academic, social, economic and personal counseling services, as well as coordinating student cultural and multi-cultural organizations and programs.

As a unit of Student Affairs, MESA functions as a non-elected representative organization for minority students for U-M programs. These representatives were hired for their experience in working with students of diverse cultures and backgrounds. The staff included but were not limited to: Asian American, Native American, African American, Indian, and Hispanic/Latino/a. In 2014, MESA became an individual unit working collaboratively with Trotter House to support students.

The first Hispanic representative, Rosa Lopez, served from 1983 to 1988. Lopez was succeeded by Katalin Berdy from 1988 to 1997. The Hispanic representative was responsible for sponsoring student organizations, programs and activities within the university. For the organizations, the Hispanic/Latino/a representative served as a staff advisor, working with the students and helping them reach their social and academic goals. The student initiated organizations were comprised of both academically and socially motivated programs. Some of these organizations included the Socially Active Latino Students Association, (S.A.L.S.A.), the Hispanic Business Students Organization, the Council of Hispanics for Higher Education, Alianza, Puerto Rican Association, Sigma Lambda Beta Fraternity, Inc., Sigma Lambda Gamma Sorority, Inc., and the Latino/a Network. The Latino/a Network (L Net) served as an elected body for all the other Hispanic/Latino/a groups on campus. As a governing board, L Net contained two representatives, either voted for or appointed, from all the other organizations and made decisions on planning what university activities, especially the Hispanic Heritage Celebration, would occur.

The Hispanic/Latino/a representative also acted as a liaison to the larger, Michigan minority business and government community, and social action organizations. This included involvement with the United Farm Workers Support Group, New Detroit, Inc., and LA SED, Inc., (Latin Americans for Social and Economic Development). These community organizations helped students protest the serving of California grapes in university dining halls (because of poor working conditions and treatment of the United Farm Workers and other minority farm workers who pick the grapes), motivate campus leaders into action, and provide opportunities and work experience for student volunteers within their organizations. Many local governments, businesses, and organizations aided in support for the annual Hispanic Heritage Celebration, which originated as a national festival in the early 1980's.

In 1981, the Professional Improvement Program (PIP) was launched in collaboration with Dr. Harold Fowler and Deborah Orr May of the Office Career Planning and Placement and Eunice Royster, former director of academic services and Comprehensive Studies Program. Funded by Dow Chemical Company and Xerox Corporation, this program was designed for minority students interested in pursuing careers in business and industry.

PIP served two primary purposes. Program leaders hoped to create student ambassadors to guide and provide membership for incoming and transfer students. They also envisioned the program to aid in matriculation success of minority students through varied workshops and experiential opportunities offered through major corporations, civic and governmental agencies, and campus professionals.

During its brief history, many noteworthy individuals visited the program to share their wisdom including tennis legend Arthur Ashe and Thomas Moore, head of the Sterling Automotive Group Foundation. The program ceased operation in the late 1980s.

Linh Nguyen was the intercultural program development program manager for MESA from 2008 to approximately 2015, when she was appointed associate director. She held the associate director position until 2018. Krishna Han replaced Nguyen as associate director after serving as assistant director from 2012-2018. Nguyen also acted as interim director before the appointment of Nadia Bazzy as MESA director in 2017.

As of 2021, MESA aims to build intercultural and leadership skills and empower students to address social justice issues. They do this by focusing on student education and training, coordinating campus-wide events, programming, and initiatives, and partnering with student organizations, among other activities. Of note is MESA's Grants Program, which provides funding for student organization events that promote social justice education through the lens of race/ethnicity. MESA also supports the celebration of heritage months at U-M, including Arab Heritage Month, Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, Black History Month, Latinx Heritage Month, and Native American Heritage Month.