Second-year College student Natalie Romero has been named as the next student director of the Multicultural Student Center. The University’s Multicultural Student Center, located in Newcomb Hall, aims “to facilitate a student centered, collaborative space that supports underrepresented and marginalized communities, while cultivating the holistic empowerment of all students.” The MSC student director works to ensure that the center is providing programs that cover a wide range of topics and support the students involved. Romero will be serving for the 2018-19 school year. Each year, prospective student directors undergo a series of applications and interviews in order to be considered for the role. After extensive review, the current MSC student director collaborates with faculty and deans to reach a final decision. Romero said that she first became involved in the MSC the day after President Donald Trump was elected in November 2016. “I was in pain that day,” Romero said. “As soon as I got back on Grounds that day I ran to the MSC because I knew there were a lot of people grieving … that was my first interaction with the MSC … a safe space where people can come to cry and be together and feel each other's pain. .. and it’s beautiful to see that.” Romero said she is constantly impressed by the sense community she finds in the MSC. “[It’s] a space of comfort,” Romero said. “At certain points in the day there are a lot of students of one identity here … that’s really cool to walk in and see that everyone has their own little groups [in which] they are speaking in their own tongues.” Attiya Latif, a fourth-year College student and the outgoing MSC student director, said in an email to The Cavalier Daily that she is excited to see what areas of the MSC will grow under Romero. “Next year, Natalie will definitely provide a unique vision that will help staff move the MSC forward,” Latif said. “The branding, resource, regular programming, and overall culture of the space still need to be defined, and I know her passion and drive will help the MSC make progress in these areas.” As student director, Romero said she wants to focus on collaborating with Contracted Independent Organizations on Grounds to build both productive relationships and friendships. “I think that one of my biggest hopes is that the programming that I put together … and that we as a group put together is more social,” Romero said. “So that we can build those … bridges with students and make sure that the space is being seen as something more of a community or family … within the different CIOs of different backgrounds and ethnicities and beliefs.” Romero said that positive change occurs when communities work together to achieve a larger goal. Romero said she hopes that, during her time as director, she will foster relationships that will allow the MSC and the surrounding communities to enact change. “I think at the end of the day in order to uplift one community, we must uplift them all together,” Romero said. “In order for the communities to come together to help each other be uplifted … you have to build a social base because then you’re going to have faces behind the emails … people who can get a social event together.” During the violent white nationalist demonstrations in Charlottesville on Aug. 12 — in which far-right demonstrators held the Unite the Right rally in downtown — Romero was injured after an individual with white nationalist ties plowed a car into a crowd of counter protesters on Fourth Street off the Downtown Mall. Heather Heyer, a 32-year-old local resident and counter protester, was killed during the attack. Romero said the experience has inspired her to delve further into the educational aspect of activism rather than direct action alone. “I think it made me want to take a different approach because at first all I was doing was direct action,” Romero said. “Now I want to add direct action with more educational and social things that will then create the foundations for our direct actions.” Romero added that her experience Aug. 12 has changed her mindset regarding political activism. “I think what happened in August was not a wakeup call because I've already known what America was like,” Romero said. “I was spit on that day by a white supremacist … people were yelling at me to go back to where I came from, and this is the only country I've known … Never have I felt so isolated.” “To change the minds of white supremacists is not on my mind anymore,” Romero added. “For some reason that was something that [I thought] was possible, and now I think that it's not.” Romero said she has been very involved in political activism in the past year and is excited to explore and facilitate activism within the MSC. “I think that at the end of the day direct action is really important,” Romero said. “But I think that through the MSC, I can do a different type of activism [by] bringing together groups of people who are marginalized and who definitely need to be together … whereas other things that are going to take years to do, for example policy change is going to take forever.” Romero said she is also enthusiastic about the difference the Multicultural Student Center can make within the University community and looks forward to collaborating with student leaders from all backgrounds. “[The MSC is] more than happy to welcome you in with any ideas that you have for programming or diversity and intersectional programming”, Romero said.