The Center for Student Diversity & Inclusion is now open on campus, with hopes of sharing and celebrating more cultures.
The Director of the Center for Student Diversity & Inclusion Timothy Staples believes that the center will be very useful for students and will help students find a place they belong.
“Yes, I think it’s going to be very useful [for students]. My hope is that the center will help all students at SIU find a sense of belonging, and also find it as a place of learning about other cultures and other identities that are represented on campus,” Staples said.
Previously, SIUE housed the Multicultural Center, but the new Center for Student Diversity & Inclusion differs in many ways.
Staples said the old Multicultural Center wasn’t a core to student affairs, but the new Center will focus on students.
“It differs for one that it is now a proponent to student affairs, and that it is fully staffed. The Multicultural Center was staffed by a graduate assistant, so it was only open for a small period of time in the day,” Staples said. “[The] center did not provide any specific programming all the way through. A lot of programming came from Dr. [Vanessa] Brown’s office, but it wasn’t a lot of student center programs.”
Staples said the new center has a full staff and better hours, allowing for more services for learning and teaching of cultures.
“It [now] has full-time staff, it is open all day, it is providing services from cultural learning and teaching, all the way to retention,” Staples said.
For the upcoming school year, the new center has plenty planned to draw students in.
“One is we plan to add more heritage and history month celebrations, starting with Latinx celebrations that start Sept. 15, so each month we will have those additional things for students,” Staples said.
The center is offering mentorship for students, along with a five-year strategic plan involving students to strengthen the center.
“We actually have a focus for a mentorship program that’s starting this year, and one of the big things we want all students to help with is we’re going to begin a process of putting together a five-year strategic plan. Coming in, I’ve heard what a lot of the adults would hope the center would do for the community, but I’m more excited to hear what the students would like,” Staples said.
Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Jeffrey Waple believes the new center will be better than the last due to changes including staffing and a larger area.
[Dr. Brown] did a great job with little resources to put things together and support programming across campus. The new center, we actually were able to put staffing toward the project, and it moved over to student affairs, and we needed to create a bigger space. That space really wasn’t engaging when you think about students from underrepresented backgrounds as a place to engage and talk and have events, and [it wasn’t] a great space for that,” Waple said.
Waple also believes the space is exciting and spoke about the new staff.
“Kelly Jo Karnes and her staff, when we were talking about the center, figured, ‘Hey, we can move over to meeting room A and do something new.’ I’m sure you’ve seen the space, it’s bright, beautiful and new and exciting. We repurposed Tarsha Moore, who was in my office as a program coordinator to be an assistant director [at the center]. We hired two graduate assistants,” Waple said.
Second-year Public Administration and Policy Analysis graduate student Reginald Hamilton, believes he will use the center and thinks new students will, too.
“I have peers [who work in the center] so I will go in there and talk to them and assist them to help out their services in the best way possible … Let’s say if I was a fresh face on campus, I would probably be curious to go see [the center],” Hamilton said.
Hamilton also believes it will be a good place for students to seek professional help.
“Currently, I’ll probably go in there now just because it’s an open space. It’s a space where I feel as though, networking-wise, there’s a fair amount of professionals there to point me in the right direction,” Hamilton said.
The new center is open to all students, and is located on the second floor of the Morris University Center in room 2060.