Opinion: The Need For a Multicultural Center AT North Central

North Central can prove its devotion for its inclusion in diversity with a Multicultural Center

BSU leaders, Arianna Durden, Tyshana Ray, Taylor Sims and Gabrielle Knight hold an event in Centennial Hall. Photo by Karly Caternia.

While North Central University has made progress in the realm of race relations in the past year with the introduction of Latinos Unidos, Asian Student Alliance, and the Black Student Union, further progress can be made as the physical campus expands. The introduction of a multicultural center on campus grounds would be incredibly beneficial to students of color at North Central. Specific spaces have been carved out for a variety of student groups. Different colleges within the university have work areas that are exclusive to their college, including English, Education, and Music majors. While minority students are capable of carving out their own spaces, the need for a dedicated area for multicultural programming cannot be understated. The existence of a multicultural center at North Central would immediately increase race-relations as well as minority interest in the university. The primary benefit of a multicultural space would be that current and future minority students would have a safe space on campus to socialize, study, and convene that doesn’t require code-switching and doesn’t tolerate or justify prejudicial mindsets.

A Place for Inclusion

While organizations exist for minority students to convene and educate the predominantly white population of North Central on different aspects of their cultures, a dedicated space does not exist for these students. While it’s easy to point to specific periods of time where students and staff of color are celebrated, such as Black History Month, that doesn’t eliminate the need for a cultural space on campus. Inclusion for students of color cannot be limited to small periods of time throughout the academic year whenever they face prejudice on their campuses daily. Students and faculty of color desire and deserve a place to convene – whether it’s for studying, socializing, or hosting multicultural programming. A multicultural center bolsters inclusion on campus while simultaneously creating opportunities to bridge racial gaps and increase understanding between students of color and their predominantly white peers.

Functions of a Multicultural Center

           A cultural space for staff and students of color would serve a wide range of functions from socializing to studying. According to a study done by the University of Nebraska – Lincoln, students and staff of color make use of multicultural spaces for roughly the same amount of time. Their usage of the space varies – aside from studying alone, students of color primarily use the space for socializing and responsibilities related to student organizations. Staff use multicultural spaces for meetings, hosting multicultural programming, and for attending student events. Both staff and students of color utilize the space more often than their white counterparts. Students of color make much more use of multicultural spaces. Judah Smith, the Executive Director of Multicultural Programming for the 2019-20 school year said, “It would be a great space for students of color to feel comfortable in their work ethic and in their social interactions no matter their ethnic background, because it’s not just black people, but people of all ethnic backgrounds.” Making space for students of color to socialize and hold cultural programming makes those students more comfortable and provides a dedicated space for students of all cultural backgrounds, not just those set apart by the three multicultural groups that exist on campus.

Conclusion

           The lack of a multicultural space on campus serves only to delineate inclusion on our campus. With the coming expansion of North Central’s campus, administration has been served the perfect opportunity to do right by its students of color and grant them a safe space to organize, educate, and study. As planning for new spaces on campus continues, those making decisions in regards to the usage of that space should heavily consider designating a portion of space – either new or old – to multicultural programming.  To avoid granting a space for multicultural programming is to neglect the concerns of students of color, leaving us unheard and discontent.

About the author: Gabriel Wright

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