Student Multicultural Center Growing with the Times
Nestled in the heart of Scott Hall you’ll find the Student Multicultural Center on the main floor. The SMC is a cozy space that feels like a family room with a couch, tables and chairs, a refrigerator, a sink and microwave. Students describe the center as a home away from home that is open to all students, faculty, staff, and parents.
“It’s a beautiful resource to have on campus,” said Serita Solis ‘20, a senior studying Spanish and biology. “It’s a safe place where students from all cultures feel free to have conversations without judgment.”
The SMC’s mission is to increase cultural awareness on campus through education and advocacy. Some events students have organized include a panel discussion on Indigenous History, a mental health discussion during National Suicide Prevention Week, and a screening of the film, “Hailing Cesar,” featuring a Q & A discussion with director Eduardo Chavez, who is also the grandson of civil rights activist Cesar Chavez. Students are currently organizing an event called, Mixed Faces, to discuss the experience of students who identify as mixed race.
“It’s important for me to share my experience with people who look like me,” said Alexander Ibarra ‘20, a senior and film studies major, who also works at the SMC. “I’m not treated like a stereotype here.”
Established in 2017, the SMC was created in response to students of color looking for a safe place to meet. Students, staff and faculty of color and the Office of Diversity Equity and Inclusion partnered to provide a space where students could feel welcome. One of the first events the center organized was a vigil to support DACA students who experienced discrimination on campus.
“The vigil was an important step towards restorative justice and healing the community during a tense time,” said Narce Rodriguez, Chief Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Officer. “It was a learning experience for all.”
The SMC has come a long way since it opened. For the first time, a coordinator for the center was recently hired. Kayla Wong sees her role as a liaison between students and other cultural and religious clubs on campus. The center also now has five student employees holding various jobs from programing and mentoring to public relations and organizing.
“It’s different now,” said Julio Montelongo ‘20, a senior and media arts major, who remembers what it was like for students of color before the SMC opened. “Before it felt like we only had short-term solutions. Now with a coordinator it feels like our concerns are being taken seriously and we can move towards more long-term solutions.”