The University released a statement on social media Wednesday evening affirming that all members of the community are welcome in the recently expanded Multicultural Student Center after a video of a student stating there were "too many white people" using the facility went viral.
“In order to foster the diversity of experience and ideas that make UVA a great and good place to study and work, these centers are open to all members of the University community,” the University wrote in a statement. “They complement existing student-focused spaces such as the 1515 Building on the Corner, opened in March 2017, and Ern Commons in the Alderman Road residential area, opened in March 2012.”
In the video, which has over 2.7 million views, the student states that the MSC is a space for people of color, adding that white people should be more cognizant of the space they occupy.
“Frankly, there's just too many white people in here, and this is a space for people of color, so, just be really cognizant of the space that you're taking up because it does make some of us POCs uncomfortable when we see too many white people in here,” the student said in the video.
Young America’s Foundation, a conservative youth group, criticized the student’s statement as an example of “racial intolerance.”
The student did not respond to a request for comment as of press time. However, several other students tweeted in solidarity with the student in the video, saying that white people did not frequently visit the MSC when it was located in the basement of Newcomb Hall.
Prior to becoming the MSC, the Center for Cultural Fluency originated in 2004 in the wake of a racially-motivated assault of former Student Council candidate Daisy Lundy, a Korean and African American student who was forcefully slammed into the wheel of her car by a man who also made a racial slur about her candidacy. The MSC officially opened in October 2016 as a “student-centered, collaborative space that supports underrepresented and marginalized communities, while cultivating the holistic empowerment of all students."
The center was originally located in the Newcomb basement with a maximum capacity of 49 people, prompting students to advocate for a larger and more visible space. The University’s decision to relocate the MSC to the second floor of Newcomb was initiated in June 2019 as part of the 10-year strategic plan project, which aims to focus on student diversity development. According to the most recent diversity data from 2018, 32.5 percent of U.Va. students are people of color, while 56.8 percent are white.
At the grand opening ceremony last Thursday, University President Jim Ryan praised the student leaders who advocated for the new and expanded student centers.
“As president, I believe deeply that we need to build a community that is not just diverse, but also inclusive,” Ryan said.
Vicki Gist, assistant dean of students and director of Multicultural Student Services, declined to comment for this article.
This article has been updated.