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MSU Forum Demands New Multicultural Center for “Students of Color”

Updated: Oct 14, 2020

Author: Sergei Kelley

A forum held on April 25, 2019 at the MSU Union, discussed building a freestanding multicultural center. The hosts hoped to hear student concerns and ideas for such a project.

The event became centered around the University's whiteness, lack of resources for undocumented students, and concerns of “students of color”, as justification for a new building.

Hosted by a committee leading the charge to building a new center, the forum included MSU students, professors, members of the student government, alumni, and administrators.

Beginning the discussion, MSU student Shiksha Sneha called the proposed center a “dreamer center for undocumented students” which would “provide resources for undocumented students.” This would include a staff position, “a person designated for undocumented students.”

“Instate tuition is available for documented and undocumented students,” she further said. The Morning Watch found, from the Michigan Immigrant Rights Center, no evidence to suggest Michigan schools or universities, per state mandate, have to offer tuition for undocumented students.

However, some universities such as the University of Michigan, and Wayne State do have their own programs.

The event turned into many calls of sentiment against the University's whiteness and need to help “students of color.”

“This is not just something that would benefit students of color even though if it [the new multicultural center] was something that just benefitted us- that wouldn’t be a problem,” stated RHA Chief of Diversity and Inclusion Sarah McConville.

A leader from a MSU CORES (Council of Racial and Ethnic Students) group addressed the dominance of whiteness at MSU. “All of your professors don’t even look like you, are all predominantly white, or like all the scholars you’re reading about are predominantly white and male,” she stated.

Looking to clarify, a committee member told attendees “a big understanding of this building is that it’s anti-white. That is not the case.”

The committee then moved the discussion onto the consistency of the new building and asked attendees how they’d like the building to look or include. Proposals included a post office, a bookstore with highlighted “diverse” authors, and “all bathrooms that are non-gender make everyone feel safe,” stated MSU student Fattima Ali.

Attendees and committee members cited the new University of Michigan multicultural center as reason for a freestanding center at MSU. The center was constructed, at least partly, out of racial, ethnic, and progressive groups’ demands, which are foundational to the push here at MSU.

UMich’s center, the Trotter Multicultural Center, cost 10 million and will host classes fall 2019.

Michigan State University current has a multicultural center within the second floor of the MSU Union called, “Mosaic: The Multicultural Unity Center” which opened in 1999, “after collective advocacy by the Council of Racial Ethnic Students” as stated by their website.

The council, “successfully convinced the MSU administration that a Multicultural Center was necessary and critical.”

Contributor: Sergei Kelley

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