“The Intercultural Center is a space that was created with students and for students,” vice president of student affairs Karen Lange said. “It is a gathering space where students have the opportunity to engage in dialogue and conversation around topics such as cultural identity, race, gender, multiculturalism and other relevant topics. It is a space for both formal and informal conversation. Both staff and faculty are involved in the facilitation of the formal dialogue.”
Discussions for an intercultural center have been ongoing over the years between students and administration. The center was one of the immediate steps included in the Action Plan to Combat Racism created this fall. It came to fruition after students made a passionate push for the center and administration identified a location for the space in ASC. Lange said as the space was being developed, several student representatives from affinity groups and clubs on campus provided input on the design and purpose of the space.
Once the Intercultural Center received the go-ahead, walls were removed between two conference rooms on the second floor of ASC. The Intercultural Center is connected to Student Diversity and Inclusion Services (SDIS) with a glass door separating the two spaces, so the Intercultural Center can remain open to students after SDIS hours. Patricia Condé-Brooks, executive director of campus inclusion and community, said students wanted a place where they could gather, be together and create a community.
“In one way we’re validating the identities of the students who are asking for those spaces in a predominantly white campus,” Condé-Brooks said. “We’re listening. We’re saying, ‘Yes, we heard you and want to engage with you in supporting an environment that feels more inclusive to you.'”
Along with being a meeting space for students, the center will also be a place students can connect with faculty, participate in an array of SDIS programming and showcase their scholarly work around diversity, inclusion and related topics.
“I’ve seen students come to the Intercultural Center who have never walked into our [SDIS] office before,” Condé-Brooks said. “In the past, I think students might have felt like they were infringing in our working space. Now it’s more to the side, so they can come in here and hang out, do homework, meet with people or wait for someone to go to The View and get lunch.”
Inclusive Leadership Collaboratory
Another new space in ASC is the Inclusive Leadership Collaboratory (ILC) on the third floor, inside the Sundberg Student Leadership Center. Condé-Brooks said the ILC came about because students from student government and clubs wanted to have a space for programming and meetings, especially to bring students together around topics with a focus on inclusive leadership. ILC’s official description is:
- The Inclusive Leadership Collaboratory (ILC) will foster a multicultural environment where students can engage in foundational learning experiences that will help them develop the attitudes, knowledge and skills needed for inclusive leadership in an increasingly diverse world. Students will develop and strengthen inclusive qualities needed for leadership, such as self-understanding, confidence, empathy, communication and building connections in a multicultural and global community.