AU will launch a new center this fall combining Multicultural Affairs, the GBLTA Resource Center and the Women’s Resource Center.
“The signature programs and services will remain but will be under the new Center,” said Sara Bendoraitis, director of the GLBTA Resource Center.
The creation of the Center for Diversity and Inclusion (CDI)stemmed from students’ wish for a place on campus that encompassed all the different aspects of identity including race, sexuality, gender and more, Office of Multicultural Affairs Director Tiffany Speak said.
“CDI, if we do it right, will make more students feel welcome,” she said. “We can’t be exclusive.”
The entrance will be that of the current GLBTA Resource Center and expand to where the Multicultural Affairs and Women’s Resource offices are now.
The construction to alter these separate offices into one space will take place over the summer and be completed by fall, Speaks said.
Speaks hopes to incorporate different groups of students into the new Center such as transfer students and “global nomads,” namely students who have traveled around the world throughout their childhood.
The new Center will also connect faculty to students interested in helping with research on social issues such as disabilities awareness, Speaks said.
“We’ll be expanding mentorship by figuring out how to tie research from the faculty to CDI,” she said. “This will be an opportunity to connect faculty with a broader community in all the schools.”
AU will be hiring an office coordinator to manage the entire Center and act as a liaison between administration and the center. The University will also be hiring a new director for the Women’s Resource Center since the previous program coordinator, Courtney Brooks, stepped down in April.
The Women’s Resource Center could not be reached in time for publication to comment on why Brooks left.
AU is ‘cutting-edge’
AU is one of few universities and colleges in the nation with a center that combines the services serving different races, sexualities and genders to allow more students feel included, Speaks said.
George Mason University and Gallaudet University are the only other schools in the D.C. area with a similar center.
Other universities include:
• Loyola University in New Orleans,
• University of Illinois, and
• Michigan Technological College
Speaks said some colleges have founded these centers in reaction to an event that occurred on campus.
However, this is not the case for AU, Speaks said.
“It’s comfortable and exciting that we’re not [founding this Center] at AU as a reaction, but to be more inviting,” she said. “We are very fortunate.”
The new Center may offer a series of training sessions focusing on topics ranging from spirituality to socioeconomic status. The Safe Space sticker training for LGBT community advocacy will remain as it is.
“The idea of combining all this in a different way is cutting edge,” Speaks said. “[And] as a director, I personally commit to getting this Center right.”
Correction: A previous version of this article stated that the name of the head of the Women’s Resource Center was called the “director.” It was actually called a “program coordinator.”