College of the Canyons unveiled its brand-new Multicultural Center in an open house on Monday in an effort to bring together and further engage different communities on campus.
The center, which is temporarily housed in a section of the campus’ cafeteria, is bringing awareness to itself in anticipation of moving to a permanent location at Bonelli Hall. Architectural plans and funding are in their final stages and the center plans on moving into its location in September.
Flavio Medina-Martin, director of diversity and inclusion for COC, said although the multicultural center is new, it’s been in the works for a long time.
“Yeah, it’s been in the making, from my understanding, for about 15 to 20 years,” said Medina-Martin. “A couple of faculty members on campus actually started planting seeds and started talking about having a ‘safe-embrace’ space, so that conversations about racism, about homophobia, about transphobia, so these really delicate [and] sensitive conversations and dialogues can take place. And over time, it’s evolved.”
The aim of the multicultural center, according to Medina-Martin, is to not only bring together the many different communities and identities on campus but to also take it a step further by opening dialogues about issues facing these communities and potential solutions to those problems.
“That’s the kind of field that we want the Multicultural Center to have,” said Medina-Martin. “So that we’re able to create spaces so that people can start talking about the challenges, the barriers, but also the successes and celebrations as well.”
One of the ways the Multicultural Center is bringing cultures together is by engaging with the many alliances that are on campus, which include the Black Student Alliance, the Trans Alliance, STEM Equity Alliance, and the Latinx Alliance. Medina-Martin said that bringing these alliances together is only a part of the mission, and the next is to get students who don’t identify as being a part of these groups to engage with them, which builds inclusion.
“Going back to the example of, say I’m not trans, but I want to be part of the Trans Alliance. These are all teachable moments for me, if people are someone who is, you know, cisgender, and they want to learn about other cultures or other lived experiences,” said Medina-Martin. “Then these alliances of which this is going to be built on… is this is a space for us to learn about each other. So that if I’m a faculty member, I’m able to fully understand, or at least better understand, that population a little bit better.”
Although the attendance was sparse at the open house, the students who did show seemed to know and understand what the Multicultural Center was trying to do.
“I think it’s great. I really think that representation is just extremely important and having a place for people to be comfortable with who they are and just have a space where they can coexist with each other,” said Samantha McCray, an administration of justice major.
Lauren Fiero, a student who’s also helping with the planning and implementation of the Multicultural Center, said she’s happy to see the blueprints begin to take form and that she’s also proud to find a place of representation.
“Well, I’m a woman, but I’m also a part of the LGBT-plus community,” said Fiero. “So it’s really important to make sure that, like women on campus, and also the queer community on campus, that they have a space where they feel like they can talk to other people who are also part of that community, and also have access to resources where they can be more supported.”
The Multicultural Center is planning on hosting multiple events in the coming weeks including a film viewing of the movie “SOUL” on April 19 from 5 to 7 p.m. and a discussion on “The Evolution of Sexual Assault” on April 20 from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
For more information on the Multicultural Center or its events visit bit.ly/3vvkhSX.