Plattsburgh State is introducing a multicultural center in the Angell College Center for all students to feel safe and welcomed.
The space is currently under construction and takes the place of the former Center for Student Involvment. An official name has yet to be established for this area, but “multicultural center” has been adopted as a placeholder. It was mentioned as one of President John Ettling’s steps forward following the racist Snapchat incident last semester, but the idea for a multicultural space in the ACC has been in the works for some time.
“The students wanted this space, and that led to the school approaching me about it,” said previous hall director Mona El-shahat. El-shahat will be the primary faculty member running the center which has given her a placeholder title of Multicultural Director.
“I had worked with students in different capacities in the past,” El-shahat said. “ I saw the need [for a multicultural center] for students of color but not only students of color. Including a lot of groups on campus that don’t necessarily feel as welcomed. This was an opportunity to create a space where people felt equal.”
El-shahat had agreed to this idea before the events of last semester but thinks the incident solidifies the center’s purpose.
“That incident was just one of many that happened here or on different campuses,” El-shahat said. “That proves the need for this kind of environment, so I think the biggest goal is to make those students who are coming away from home feel welcomed while they are here.”
The space will be shared with Title IX, but Jackson explained how the two will be “together but separate” meaning the they will offer different services to PSUC students.
There will be an office each for El-shahat and Title IX coordinator Butterfly Blaise. El-shahat will not limit herself to just providing support for students who may enter the multicultural space including students involved with Title IX.
“My plan is to collaborate with everybody in the space,” El-shahat said. “That’s for the benefit of all the students. If a [Title IX] student wants to come to my office, by all means walk into my office and I’ll talk to you.”
Director for Student Involvement Cori Jackson has also played a role in the creation of this space. Jackson’s role has consisted of the physical construction to the ACC.
“The multicultural center is a work in progress,” Jackson said. “I think a lot of it will evolve organically as the students begin to use the space.
Jackson’s design of the space will include a giant lounge area for students to relax and make new friends. There will also be a big window facing the hallway to attract passing students of the ACC.
“A lot of the physical space will be open,” Jackson said.
Jackson said the PSUC administration has asked El-shahat and her grad student assistant Jarrin Jeffrey to host celebratory events around theme months as well as events that speak about mental health issues.
“We plan to do education-based programs like weekly discussions,” Jeffrey said. “Programs that will educate students and faculty about things that are happening. Also we are working on a calendar [of events] that will be open to the campus.”
The multicultural center’s success will be based on student involvement and the effort put into it.
“The multicultural center cannot exist without everyone working together,” El-shahat said. The space is expected to officially open after winter break.
Email Mataeo Smith at cp@cardinalpointsonline.