Multicultural suite to come to Carl Hansen Student Center

The+gallery+in+the+Carl+Hansen+Student+Center+will+be+turned+in+a+multicultural+suite.

The gallery in the Carl Hansen Student Center will be turned in a multicultural suite.

Victoria Simpri

Since the construction of the Carl Hansen Student Center, students have used the gallery area, located at the entrance of the Student Center piazza, to lounge and hang out.

But this area will soon be converted into a multicultural room for the 16 individual cultural and identity organizations on campus, according to Associate Vice President of Student Affairs and Chief Diversity Officer Diane Ariza.

Ariza believes it would be beneficial for the university to have a suite designated for the multicultural organizations on campus.

“There is no doubt that it would have been nice to have that [suite] back when the Student Center was being redesigned,” Ariza said. “The fact that the administration, as well as the students, understand that this is important comes at a good time.”

The intention of the multicultural suite is to create a place for members of the various multicultural organizations to come together and plan for events and growth, according to Ariza.

“Whether it’s bringing some speakers or deciding what would be ideal times to plan for Black History Month, Latino Heritage Month,  Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender  (LGBT) month or Native American Heritage Month, it’s a space to have like-mindedness and to talk to each other about how this would look for the university,” Ariza said.

The Student Center was redesigned at the end of 2011 to allow for more lounge space, according to Ariza.

“The piazza was not even there, and there was a need to have more conference rooms for meetings and for guests speakers and programs,” Ariza said.

When the Student Center was being developed there was a vision in place for the building. Prior to the building’s remodel, there were spaces assigned for multicultural organizations, according to Ariza.

“When the space in the Student Center was remodeled, it got reconfigured a different way,” Ariza said. “Obviously, there were identifiable spaces that were important for student organizations. The question back then was, ‘How did the Multicultural Student Council get represented in this space?’”

The Multicultural Student Council is an official organization at the university. The council consists of a collection of the multicultural student organizations, according to Ariza.

Senior Melanie Nyarko is a member of the Black Student Union (BSU), the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and president of the Quinnipiac African Student Union. Meetings for these organizations generally take place in the Student Center or in Tator Hall, according to Nyarko.

“I think it’s important to let the campus and student body know that minorities matter,” Nyarko said. “The Greek organizations have their own suite, and that’s a space where people like-minded can meet. When you think about safe spaces, we don’t really have those on campus.”

Freshman Kristina Choe agrees that it is important for all organizations to have a place to meet on campus.

“It’s definitely important so you always know where to go,” Choe said. “It brings everyone together so there’s no confusion.”

The formation of the suite will provide visibility and show the presence of the multicultural organizations on campus.

“I always say to the multicultural organizations, ‘If one day you just disappeared, would the university care, would it matter?’” Ariza said.

The Multicultural Student Council has been working with Vice President and Provost Mark Thompson and the Vice President for Student Affairs Monique Drucker to discuss the timeline of the project, according to Ariza.

“My understanding is that they’re looking at working over winter break hopefully to have this [suite] open up for spring semester,” Ariza said.

Converting the gallery area into a multicultural suite for the various multicultural organizations is a good idea, according to freshman Quinn Bouchard.

“Anyone can go, and they would know where it is so you would be able to have everyone in one spot together,” Bouchard said.

The Office of Multicultural and Global Engagement (OMGE) seems detached from the main part of campus, according to Nyarko. The area surrounding the Student Center is the center of campus and the OMGE is located across campus in the Center for Communications and Engineering.

“Most classes happen here [in Tator Hall,] and lot of student organizations happen here,” Nyarko said. “If you want to be included, you have to walk all the way across campus which feels almost like an afterthought.”

Nyarko loves the idea of converting the gallery into a multicultural suite.

“I think this is a great first step,” Nyarko said. “Universities are really here to serve students, so if the student body wants something like this and it gets done, I think it will be great.”

The gallery in the Carl Hansen Student Center will be turned in a multicultural suite.
[/media-credit] The gallery in the Carl Hansen Student Center will be turned in a multicultural suite.