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Michigan State University looks at building freestanding multicultural center

Potential building renderings for MSU Multicultural Center by Moody Nolan and Hamilton Anderson Associates
Posted at 7:57 PM, Mar 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-08 19:57:10-05

MSU CAMPUS — Students and faculty at Michigan State University are teaming up to answer a decades-old call for a freestanding multicultural center on campus.

The university formed a steering committee of faculty, student and alumni representatives to conduct a feasibility study for the multicultural center project.

“This was a very student-driven process. It’s part of demands from students that go back 20 years,” said Vice President of Residential and Hospitality Services and Auxiliary Services Vennie Gore, who is a member of the committee..

MSU student led sit-ins 1989 to
Newspaper clipping from the May 11, 1989 Lansing State Journal and screengrab of the State News Nov. 1, 2019 depicting student-led sit-in demonstrations advocating for diversity initiatives on campus.

The first iteration of a multicultural center at MSU came in 1992 after students protesting against racism on campus demanded more resources for minority students.

In 2012, the Multicultural Unity Center (MOSAIC) was moved from the basement of the student union to a more prominent space in the building.

But student groups have been demanding a bigger investment in diversity for years.

Fast forward to 2019, student groups once again called on the university to provide a space for minority students after a string of racist incidents on campus.

“Specifically, a freestanding multicultural building is something that we’ve been fighting for, for years … going back to at least 2011. Most recently, to date, we held a sit in in the President’s office in November of 2019 and presented a 10-point plan for D.E.I. [Diversity, Equity, Inclusion] and this building is a result of that,” Sharron Reed-Davis, a senior at MSU, president of the Black Student Alliance on campus and a member of the steering committee.

Student calls for more effort towards a multicultural center in a 1999 edition of the Lansing State Journal
Newspaper clipping of a 1999 Lansing State Journal shows student advocating for a multicultural center on campus.

Dr. Jabbar Bennett is the university’s inaugural vice president and chief diversity officer. According to Bennett, the steering committee is evidence of President Samuel Stanley’s commitment to diversity initiatives.

“Over the past couple of years, it’s become apparent that different types of support are necessary to ensure the success of our students,” Bennett said.

Potential building renderings for MSU Multicultural Center by Moody Nolan and Hamilton Anderson Associates
Potential building design ideas for the MSU Multicultural Center as presented in their February Steering Committee planning report.

The committee proposed three possible buildings designed by the firms Moody Nolan and Hamiliton Anderson to be reviewed by the Board of Trustees in April. The center could be built on the corner of Farm Lanse and Shaw Lane or as an addition to the International Center.

“So, we’re at the point where they’re taking all of that information and cost estimating now so how much will this all cost so that’s where we are,” Gore said.

Designs for the center feature a mixture of office spaces, common areas, and outdoor spaces where groups can gather and collaborate.

“One of the key parts of the students, when they were articulating this, is that they want this to be a center for all students in that there is cross intersectionality between groups to come together,” Gore said.

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