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Multicultural Center on track to open in October

Space aims to provide support for cultural and underrepresented groups

<p>The multicultural center will be located in the basement level of Newcomb Hall.&nbsp;</p>

The multicultural center will be located in the basement level of Newcomb Hall. 

The University will open the Multicultural Center located in lower-level Newcomb the weekend of Oct. 15.

Catalina Pinto, a fourth-year College student, serves as the Multicultural Center’s student director and anticipates the opening of the center after two years of work. The date chosen coincides with the University’s annual Young Alumni Reunion weekend.

“We picked the date because that’s the soonest we can get furniture in here,” Pinto said. “It’s a good weekend because a lot of people who have been working a lot on this have graduated, so we wanted to provide for them to come visit the center.”

After the fall opening was announced in May, Dean Vicki Gist was named Director of Multicultural Student Services. Multicultural Student Services is currently in the process of hiring interns to make up the staff at the center. 

“We are working diligently toward opening around October 17, barring any unexpected delays with furniture or facilities projects,” Gist said in an email statement.

Gist said Pinto will be responsible for guiding the center’s interns and an advisory board as they develop programs. 

“Everything is on track,” Pinto said. “We are getting so much support from the administration. People are really excited to see this open and are doing their best to see that there are no obstacles in the way.”

In a release from the spring semester, Dean of Students Allen Groves said the center “represents a truly collaborative effort across the Grounds and serves as an important next step in the University’s longstanding commitment to support an inclusive and open community.”

The center is currently focusing on developing the physical space the center will occupy on the lower level of Newcomb. Plans include a lounge space, tables for meetings and study spaces along the outside in the hallway.

Until the center opens, the space will be open for students to reserve.

“That way even if it’s not open, students can still access the space and use it,” Pinto said.

Pinto said the advisory board will work to improve upon the center’s design.

“Student leaders, in addition to anyone else interested in the mission of the center can come to meetings twice a month and evaluate what we’ve been doing so far and provide ideas for programming going into the future,” Pinto said.

Pinto said she hopes the advisory board and student feedback will allow the center to change to meet student demands.

“Our main focus is that this space is best-suited for our student’s needs,” Pinto said.

The center’s staff will be prepared to engage with students in order to connect them to academic help, mental health resources and to aid with CIO formation and advising.

“We are going to be prepared to help anyone whether it be a student or organization with what they need,” Pinto said.

The center will facilitate cross-cultural discussion and provide a space on Grounds where individuals can access resources in one place.

“I was probably a first-year when I realized it, and it was mostly because I saw that because I was involved, I knew about different resources I could use as a Latina student, but my Latino friends didn’t know [about them],” Pinto said. “So that’s where I saw a need for a physical space where people could access these resources all together.”

Though functioning as a space for minority students, Pinto emphasized the ability of the space to be a resource for everyone.

“The space is intended to be open for all,” Pinto said. “But we are specifically suited to support cultural and underrepresented groups.”