U.Va. to create multicultural center

Center to be constructed in Newcomb Hall, open in fall

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The center will be located in the lower level of Newcomb Hall where The Cavalier Daily office is currently located. The Cavalier Daily will be moving to a partitioned portion of the Media Activities Center.

Lauren Hornsby | Cavalier Daily

After two years of work between the Office of the Dean of Students and the Multicultural Student Center Initiative, the University will open a multicultural center in fall 2016.

The center will be located in the lower level of Newcomb Hall where The Cavalier Daily office is currently located. The Cavalier Daily will be moving to a partitioned portion of the Media Activities Center.

MSCI Co-Founder Thomas Pilnik, a fourth-year College student, said the center developed from conversations within the Latino Student Alliance and the Minority Rights Coalition in spring 2014. The center will be designed to bring different groups in the University together and facilitate dialogue about intersectionality.

"The goal is to unite different corners of the University to provide a truly multicultural and collaborative space on Central Grounds," Pilnik said in an email statement. "We aim to partner with the administration, students, faculty and alumni to facilitate dialogue surrounding intersectionality in order to create the best space possible."

MSCI Co-Founder Catalina Pinto, a third-year College student, said its placement in Newcomb Hall will be an asset to the center.

"In order for a multicultural center to be successful, it has to have a central location," Pinto said in an email statement. "Newcomb Hall is centrally located on Grounds so it will allow for the center to become a great resource, collaboration, social and event space for students."

The Multicultural Student Center is the first of its kind at the University, Pinto said, although Newcomb Hall has been home to the Kaleidoscope Center for Cultural Fluency — an event space and a lounge.

Pilnik said Newcomb Hall is a prime location for the center because many students use the spaces nearby, such as the LGBTQ center and the Programs & Councils space.

"It makes sense that a center that promotes diversity and inclusion is placed there alongside the LGBTQ center and the PAC which serve a wide array of students,” Pilnik said.

While the center will have student staff members — similar to student involvement in the LGBTQ center — Office of the Dean of Students staff members will work out of the center as well.

"Four ODOS staff members who concentrate on multicultural programming will be located in the center and will be available every day to students for services and support," Dean of Students Allen Groves said in an email statement.

Both Pinto and Pilnik said finding a space for the center was a challenge but that the University administration was helpful in locating an appropriate space for the center. Pinto said MSCI will be looking for student input to make the center an inclusive space for all students.

"In the next steps, I think the most challenging part will be to create a space in which all students will feel welcome — for this, we will need as much student input as possible," Pinto said.

In a press release, MSCI and ODOS said they see “see the securing of a space for the multicultural center as one of many steps in sustaining a vibrant, cross-cultural University community.”

Other students on the current executive board of MSCI are third-year College student Brittany Hsieh, fourth-year Architecture student Jackie Restrepo and second-year College student Bryanna Miller.

Updates on construction and opening dates will be posted on the Multicultural Student Center Initiative’s website.

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