Photo ©Multicultural Resource Center
Last Thursday, April 16, marked the first virtual town hall regarding a Multicultural Commons. Students, staff and faculty discussed location options for the commons. The goal of these commons would be to provide a positive and safe environment for students of color and multicultural backgrounds. A Multicultural Commons is an idea that has been discussed by administration and is now being brought to action.
The virtual town hall was led by Associate Director of Student Life, Danielle Mancuso. Mancuso provided a slide show presenting the following Stevenson Union location options brainstormed by administration.
Room 306, MRC coordinator and supervisor Marvin Woodard’s current office space, costing from $0-$5000. Room 303, Conference Room with currently one window, but which would include an extended lounge outside of the room, costing $5000-$10,000. Option three is to build a space in the open commons of 308, costing from $10-$30,000. The final option is to give Marvin the new office space of 305 and hold the commons in Room 303, with an extra door added between 303 and 305. No projected price was attached to the final option.
In a phone interview with Marvin Woodard, he expressed that offering his office as a commons space was a collective and willing decision. If this is where students are most comfortable and “if this is gonna help our students find success and find a peace of mind…I’ll give up everything but the shoes on my feet,” Woodard said.
Woodard said that, “regardless of how we got there…it’s never been and never will be an ‘Administration versus The Students’”. He expressed that taking this action to set up a Multicultural commons is a sign of change for the equitable improvements of SOU student life.
This first meeting was meant to present options to students and faculty. In the following weeks, Zoom town halls will be held to assess the opinion of SOU’s community about where the commons should be located. If you are a student of color or a multicultural student, or just curious, attending these discussions will give you the ability to voice your perspective and desired outcome of this project.
The next town hall will be held Thursday, April 30th. Email Britney Sharp at firstname.lastname@example.org or Danielle Mancuso at MancusoD@sou.edu for the link if you are interested in attending and contributing your voice.