New Student Group Introduced in School of Architecture

Students from the School of Architecture at the National NOMA conference.

Founded in 1971, the National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA) was created to empower, mentor, and support minority architects. Starting this semester, students in the School of Architecture can get more involved in NOMA’s work thanks to the creation of a new student chapter, NOMAS.

“It is important to give students an opportunity to participate in conversations that not only touch on how to be more culturally sensitive but explore why diversity and equity are so essential to the design profession and our communities,” said Hana Saifullah, one of the students spearheading the creation of the new chapter.

School of Architecture faculty are also getting involved in the formation of the new group with Assistant Professor Jennifer Newsom acting as the faculty advisor. “I hope that the new student group provides a welcoming intellectual and communal space to discuss issues of race, gender, and class equity in the built environment…These are conversations that all of our students need to have, and hopefully, NOMAS can provide that forum,” said Newsom.

While the School of Architecture did have a NOMAS group in the past, the original group lost momentum once its leaders graduated. The new founders are determined not to let that happen again, “We are hoping to spark interest in a range of students and to lay a strong groundwork so that NOMAS can continue to enact change within the school for years to come,” explained Saifullah.

Students can get involved in the new group by attending monthly meetings and contributing their thoughts to how the group should run. The group itself is nonhierarchical and is split into task forces that focus on the four themes the group is working to address:

  • Advocacy: Igniting conversations on inequality in the context of architecture.
  • Education: Making ourselves more aware of inequalities, critical discourse, and providing resources and a place for students to educate themselves on the related topics.
  • Community: Making a safe space/support system for students, intellectually and emotionally.
  • Opportunity: Creating opportunities for NOMAS members to be involved in the professional and Twin Cities community.

“The enthusiasm from faculty and students is very inspiring. I’ve really enjoyed planning the ‘curriculum’ of pressing issues facing the field and the proper discourse to make people aware, so we can all begin to discuss and take action,” concluded Saifullah. Thanks to the generosity of the Minneapolis NOMA chapter and NOMA national, the first year membership for the student group has been waived.

You can learn more about the group and how to join on the NOMAS-UMinn Facebook page and on LinkedIn.

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