Michigan State University is on the cusp of making history, with construction of the university’s first free-standing multicultural center set to begin this spring. This month, the Board of Trustees gave the university the green light to break ground this spring on the $38 million 34,000 square foot facility on the corner of North Shaw and Farm Lanes.
The announcement comes during Black History Month, a time to recognize the inequities and triumphs generations of African Americans in the U.S. have faced. Calls for a free-standing multicultural center on MSU’s campus date back to the civil rights movement when protests were sparked by the demands of Black students who called for increasing racial and ethnic minority representation on campus.
The standalone building will make for a culturally rich and welcoming environment that promotes intellectual curiosity among students and their peers to learn and share experiences with one another. Those shared experiences will be further amplified through several unique features of the center and its property, including a dreamer center and outdoor amphitheater.
The MSU Multicultural Center is expected to be completed by the fall 2024 semester.
Four Spartans who were instrumental in making this dream come true join me on MSU Today to talk about the important addition to the campus the center will be. Vennie Gore is senior vice president for Student Life and Engagement; Lee June is a professor of Psychology; Maggie Chen-Hernandez is the recently retired director of MOSAIC; and Sharron Reed-Davis is a recent MSU graduate.
(3:45) – “One of the things that was important for us when we chose our architect was that they be good listeners. And they were extremely good listeners in working with students.”
(12:37) – “The free-standing multicultural building was only one of ten demands. But that was the largest one and the one we had been fighting for the longest. So, I was very surprised and excited when this was something the administration was on board with.”
(14:44) – “Even the majority students should come to this building and feel like it can be there home, too, and that this is a place where they can learn something. If I’ve never seen a Black person in my life, I can come here and feel welcome and comfortable enough to ask what the Black community is about. The world is full of ignorance and hate and we need a place where we can come and keep that out of the door and educate and bring people in and not push them away.”
(15:55) – “Students don’t leave Michigan State because of academic or financial reasons, they leave because they feel like they don’t belong. They haven’t found their space and so this space is critical in helping students find their space.”
(19:20) – “The administration doesn’t like students to make demands. Dr. King said rights were the language of the unheard. Students make demands not because they hate the university. They love the university, and they look at the university and they want to make it better.”
(20:22) – “It’s not like students want to leave the university because they don’t have a sense of belonging. They don’t know where to start. Students don’t want to leave. That’s why we make these demands so that we can keep our communities here. We don’t want to fall through the cracks. We want to be here.”