Silver Moore wishes that at some point in the future, she will be able to come back to MSU for Homecoming and see the Multicultural Center standing freely on campus.
It is a dream she and other leaders of MSU cultural student organizations hope one day is realized.
Moore, the president of the Black Student Alliance, or BSA, said this is not a new idea, as students have been pushing for a new center for decades.
And on Friday afternoon, student cultural organization leaders, MSU administrators and potential architects, among others, are expected to gather at the current Multicultural Center in the basement of the Union to discuss the possibility of expanding and moving the center to the second floor of the Union.
Although Moore said the end goal is to one day have a freestanding center, the move is necessary and is a step in the proper direction.
“This is progress, (but) this is not the finish line for us,” the journalism senior said. “This is the next step. … (And, if) we’re not in the corner in the basement anymore … that’s progress, but that’s not the final step for us.”
Maggie Chen Hernandez, the associate director of the Office of Cultural and Academic Transitions, or OCAT, said although the talk about expanding is very positive, nothing is set in stone.
The process on any campus construction project is complex and first will have to be approved by the MSU Board of Trustees before anything actually can happen.
The next MSU Board of Trustees meeting is Oct. 26 — at which time members of the Council of Racial and Ethnic Students and the Council of Progressive Students are planning to present their proposal to administrators, Moore said.
Hernandez said when the current center opened in 1999, the space was supposed to be used for a three-year pilot run.
The current center is small, has little office and meeting space and does not meet the needs of all the student groups who would like to utilize it, Hernandez said.
“In so many ways, conceptual as well as spacial (expansion) is important,” Hernandez said.
“(And) I think there is a desire for students to advocate that.”
Paulette Granberry Russell, the director of the Office for Inclusion and Intercultural Initiatives, said the talk about the center’s potential expansion is part of creating an experience where students can connect with one another across cultures.
Russell said cultural connections should occur across the MSU community, not just within the Multicultural Center.
“By virtue of our differences, tensions exist (and) conflicts can arise, but what you want to see modeled in space, in (the Multicultural Center), is the ability to transcend these differences in a passionate way,” Russell said. “You want to see (it) replicated beyond the boundaries of a particular space. … Using the space as a model for MSU to be a supporting, welcoming, learning environment for all.”
Kinesiology junior Jessica Rivard said she is passionate about the possibility for an expansion, and has been involved in much of the process as the public relations chair of the Northern American Indigenous Student Organization, or NAISO.
Rivard said students should take note that they have an impact when it comes to creating change on campuses, especially at MSU.
“I think, in many ways, that students should never underestimate their voice,” Rivard said.
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