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The Office of Multicultural Student Life

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Our History

Multicultural Center: What Does It Mean?

In 1978, two undergraduate students attending Boston College approached Dr. Donald Brown, the Director of Minority Student Programs at Boston College, and expressed their concerns about being labeled as “minorities.” These students argued that “minority” was an offensive and unacceptable term when applied to people of color. Dr. Brown developed the AHANA acronym to eliminate the negative connotations that are associated with the term “minority.”

AHANA stands for African American, Hispanic American, Asian American, and Native American. As Dr. Brown states, “AHANA is not a degrading, inaccurate or stereotypical term. It is a term that is creative, unique and symbolic of pride. It was not developed to segregate its members from the remainder of the [University] community. It was developed to unite its members for the greater good of all, to inspire cultural awareness, and destroy the void among students of different racial backgrounds.” Dr. Brown presented the acronym and the feelings of the students to the Board of Trustees. Like the student population at Boston College, the Board of Trustees warmly accepted the new term and encouraged its use.

In keeping with the changing trend, The University of Maine began successfully experimenting with this acronym a few years ago. At UMaine the term AHANA has been altered to Multicultural Center. All aspects of the term remain the same with the exception of the change from Hispanic to Latino/a thus replacing the “H” with an “L” in the acronym. This change resulted from the fact that many people consider themselves Latino/a rather than Hispanic.

Currently, there are more than 30 colleges and universities using some form of the acronym on their campus. At UMaine, we continue to test the acronym for its uses and purposes on our campus.

“When you are willing to make sacrifices for a great cause, you will never be alone.” – Coretta Scott King (1927-2006)

By providing quality services and programs, from personal, to academic, to social, cultural and ethnic, we are committed to ensuring that your educational experience at the university will be a positive and productive one. I encourage students to make the time to connect with and take pride in the programs and services designed to encourage, support and empower students of color to succeed.


  • Welcome Barbecue
  • Multicultural Center Student Orientation
  • Multicultural Center Student Workshops
  • Multicultural Center Spring Preview Weekend – Admissions
  • Dr. Martin Luther King’s Birthday Celebration
  • Black History Month
  • Latino Heritage Celebration
  • Asian Awareness Week
  • Native American Awareness Month
  • Human Rights Awareness Week
  • Kwanza Celebration
  • Tamil/Sinhala
  • Foreign Film Series
  • Culture FEST!
  • Coffee Hour
  • Diversity Awareness Programs

Image Description: Fall Welcome Weekend 2005

Image Description: Students from the Multicultural Program


Division of Student Life

Contact Information

The Office of Multicultural Student Life
5748 Memorial Union
Orono, Maine 04469
Phone: (207) 581-1428 | Fax: (207) 581-9381E-mail:
The University of Maine
Orono, Maine 04469
A Member of the University of Maine System