On Sep. 9 Sacred Heart University held a ribbon cutting ceremony to unveil a new Multicultural Center, located within the Humanities Center of the Main Academic Building.
This center, recently converted from a computer lab, possesses new desks and couches; along with creative artwork and inspiring quotes from underrepresented groups.
The center will be utilized as a meeting space for a variety of multicultural clubs, like Multicultural Council, Black Student Union, La Hispanidad, Italian Club, and Gender Sexuality Alliance. While the area will host clubs, the space is open to all students and faculty as an active hub for discussing multicultural issues and inclusivity.
“This center needs to be integrated into student life, student activities, the athletic department, etc,” said President of Sacred Heart, Dr. John J. Petillo.
The new director of multicultural affairs, Robert Johnson, hopes to work as a positive voice for minority students, while inciting social growth throughout the Sacred Heart Community.
“We want to create sustained change here, we don’t want it to be a one-time deal,” said Johnson during the ribbon cutting ceremony.
Johnson graduated from Sacred Heart in 2016 with a bachelor’s in psychology and continued on to gain a master’s degree in the same field. He formerly worked in the office of admissions, until gaining this new position.
Johnson hopes to aid minority students while inciting change through a variety of new programs. The firstly being a mentorship program that highlights Sacred Heart Alumni of color, or other underrepresented demographics. This program, titled as the “Inspiration Station”, will put forth their successes in a visual and short biographical style.
“When I feature these students, my hope is that other students will see this representation and it will spark a flame within them, so that they will also be inspired to do more for themselves and others,” said Johnson.
Along with the inspiration station, Johnson hopes to create a social justice wall.
“I want those groups to know that their stories will not go unheard through this center. I also want students who come through this center to know about these stories and to be aware, because awareness is key,” said Johnson.
President of the Black Student Union, Tatyana Paul, voiced how the new space can be utilized for educational purpose.
“We can now educate people on our campus about the problems underrepresented students face, and outline ways in which we can all come together to help fix these issues,” said Paul.
Johnson has a variety of ideas to utilize the space for such educational purposes. One of these ways is by hosting a variety of inclusion focused seminars. These seminars will be available for both students and faculty alike.
He also hopes to conduct a series of diversity workshops, which discuss topics like police brutality, cultural appropriation, and indigenous sensitivity.
“I want to provide a space for underrepresented students to vent, and it would be great to have these different diversity workshops,” said Johnson.
Krystie Tirado, president of the multicultural club, commented about the importance of this space and the helpful resources it will provide for underrepresented students.
“By providing us with a safe space of our own, I believe that underrepresented races at Sacred Heart will finally feel comfortable just being themselves. I hope that having this room will give students of color the confidence to go out and push themselves to become more active, involved, and vocal members of the Sacred Heart community,” said Tirado.