How we build community
Author: Cynthia Gomez and PSU Cultural Resource Center team
Gathering Space: Building Community is a new Cultural Resource Centers program aimed at recognizing the depth and breadth of work happening in the Multicultural Student Center, La Casa Latina Student Center, and the Native American Student & Community Center.
The Cultural Resource Center activities extend well beyond creating space for studying and relaxing, their work impacts all aspects of retention, persistence, and graduation for the students they serve. Their staff and students work to create meaningful community connections and foster authentic environments for coalition building. As part of the effort to expand these services to multiple communities on campus, the Cultural Resource Centers are preparing to open two additional culturally specific student resources centers for African American/African/Black and Asian American/Asian/Pacific Islander communities.
In December 2015, students organized a Students of Color Speak out that gave them the opportunity to voice concerns about their experiences as people of color on the Portland State University campus. One student, Renee Ingram, said that the Speak Out was the first time she felt truly heard and listened to on campus — she finally felt that her “life mattered on this campus.”
The new resource centers hold the promise for even more. When they open, Renne said she “will be convinced that PSU really wants to stand behind the diversity it regularly boasts of.” She said, “If [the new centers] are given an adequate amount of space and resources to serve my ever marginalized population of peers, myself and future Vikings will be comfortable calling Portland State ‘home.’”
On December 11th, immediately following the Speak Out, PSU President Wim Wiewel announced that new meeting places for African American/African/Black and Asian American/Asian/Pacific Islander students would be created. The new centers are meant to complement the work happening in the Multicultural Student Center, La Casa Latina Student Center, and the Native American Student and Community Center and will open in fall 2016. The new centers will be designed as gathering places for students to study and meet with advisers and mentors; will each house a program coordinator and student employees; and will have original art, comfortable furniture, and computer stations.
For more information on the expansion of the Cultural Resource Centers, including location proposals and visioning session feedback, check out the website: http://www.pdx.edu/dmss/gathering-space-building-community