At William Woods, commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion is a core value of the University. This year The Woods has established two new initiatives to help further that commitment with the opening of the new Multicultural Enrichment Center on campus and the student-led formation of a new Black Student Union.
The Multicultural Enrichment Center, housed within Brockman Hall as part of the new Brockman Student Center, was the result of a proposal from the campus Diversity Inclusion Committee. The committee’s request was for a location on campus that would allow a space for students to be able to utilize for connection and hosting cultural events.
“We wanted a safe space for all students on campus but specifically for students who tend to be in marginalized communities,” said Darianne Maclin, Director of the Office of Diversity and Inclusion. “The Multicultural Enrichment Center is also a place for international students to come and celebrate their culture. Or for LGBTQ+ students, for example, to put on events that are specific to their community.”
One of the main goals of the Multicultural Enrichment Center is to create a place that is active, engaging and welcoming for all students to be able to come and participate. Located on the main floor inside Brockman, the center is set up like a conference room with a monitor, tables and seating. It does currently lack a cultural touch, however, which will be solved when student organizations are able to come in and decorate it.
One of the newest student organizations on campus, the Black Student Union, will have its home in the Multicultural Enrichment Center. Forming a first-ever Black Student Union at WWU has been a topic of conversation for a couple years now, and it has now arrived, beginning with the fall semester 2021. The purpose behind the Black Student Union is not that the group is exclusive to only black students, but that the topics that are discussed and the advocacy that takes place in the organization are focused on the students, faculty, and staff from the Black community.
“I know the name can sometimes put people in a position that if they are not as educated on the history of black student organizations and black student unions, they may be a little more put off by the idea because they don’t understand what it is,” said Maclin, the advisor to the new group. “There is a big education piece that we will focus on, exploring issues that affect our students, faculty and staff of color. With that being said, it is important to emphasize that anyone and everyone is welcome to join this new organization.”
The goals of the Black Student Union are to allow students of color feel more included and welcomed on campus, create a space for community, and to educate fellow students on various aspects of Black culture. The union would like to put on educational campus events, but also events that allow students to engage with various characteristics of culture as well. Some of the ideas they have are a step show, a talent show, and a weekend food event that focuses on food that originates in the Black community.
“The potential for this group is exciting for me as an advisor,” said Maclin. “I am glad to be a part of this process to help them facilitate and get access to the resources they need to be able to do all of the things they are planning and making happen.”
With the Black Student Union and Multicultural Enrichment Center being established on campus around the same time, their missions fit perfectly together. With the center being a blank canvas right now, the union is excited to help put it all together and get it decorated and ready for students to utilize.
“This process has momentum. It is a really big project, but I think it is something our whole campus will really benefit from,” said Maclin.