Student Multicultural Center Open House Slated for March 14

Sophia O'Neal '20 and Leeahamae Vazquez '18 study in the Student Multicultural Center.As a transfer student in his junior year, Julio Montelongo ’19 has sometimes struggled to adjust to life at Pacific University, which in many ways is different than the community college he previously attended.

But his involvement with Pacific’s new Student Multicultural Center has helped him find a sense of community and an outlet for civic engagement.

“It really has become a second home,” said Montelongo, who transferred to Pacific from Portland Community College.

“Getting acclimated at Pacific has been stressful,” he said. “But the Student Multicultural Center has been a place for me to take a breather, clear my mind and focus on what needs to happen at the center and in my own life.”

The Student Multicultural Center — located in Scott Hall (Room 106/107) on the Forest Grove Campus — will host an open house March 14 from 5 to 7 p.m. The entire Pacific community is invited to attend the event to learn more about the center, which opened at the start of the 2017-2018 academic year.

For some students of color and alumni, the opening of the Student Multicultural Center represented the fulfillment of a long-held desire, said Narcedalia Rodriguez, Pacific’s new chief equity diversity inclusion officer.

“We want the entire Pacific community to know the Student Multicultural Center exists. We’d like people to come to the open house, contribute ideas and maybe even consider volunteering at the center,” Rodriguez said.

President Lesley Hallick will speak at the open house, as will Rodriguez, who supervises a group of students, known as social justice educators, who run the center.

The open house will feature a ribbon-cutting ceremony, as well as beverages and light appetizers. It will also showcase the center’s past activities — such as its Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) vigil in October 2017 — and planned future events.

Open from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays, the Student Multicultural Center is a place where students can relax, study, socialize, exchange ideas and even pray. It’s also place to get information on institutes and other centers at Pacific, student associations and other resources.

Registered student organizations can reserve the center at no charge for meetings and events. Student organizations may also use the center as office space.

For students of color, the center serves an important purpose, said Leeahamae Vazquez ’18, a social justice educator.

“We see students of color coming into the center because they finally have a space they can call their own. They can be their authentic selves” without having to worry about fitting in or being judged, Vazquez said.

Ultimately, the Student Multicultural Center is expected to contribute to a higher level of student retention, explained Rodriguez.

“When students feel they have a sense of belonging at an institution, the likelihood of them graduating is very high,” she said.

Feb. 13, 2018