How come ASU, the most diverse university in Arizona, doesn’t have a Multicultural Center?

The first thing Sarra Tekola looked for when she came to Arizona State was look for a multicultural center. To her surprised she learned it did not exist

What? Arizona State, one of the largest universities in America, does not have a multicultural center? Do they need one?  According to a group of ASU students who formed a multicultural coalition, the answer is yes.

When Sarra Tekola came to Arizona State as a graduate student, the first thing she did was to look for the multicultural center. To her surprise she learned it did not exist.  At the University where she obtained her bachelor’s degree, she said she found comfort and support within their multicultural center. She feels multicultural centers not only offer academic support, but also, a place where people of diverse backgrounds on predominately white campuses can socialize.

Sarra Tekola

“I went to the graduate student center and asked where it was and she printed out a page about SHADES, which is a program that connects you with another person of color and you’re supposed to help each other out,” Tekola told The Tab.

ASU’s website describes SHADES is a program offered to ASU undergraduates and post doctorate scholars to encourage networking and mentorships by their peers from the same field of study.

So why does the most diverse college in the state of Arizona, according to Niche, a college ranking website, need a multicultural center.

“The Spanish honors society was getting a lot of their flyers vandalized, saying things like go back to Mexico and you guys don’t belong here. This was before the (presidential) election happened and they talked to ASU admin and ASU admin didn’t do anything”, according to Felina Rodriguez, a undergraduate student.

Felina Rodriguez

ASU may be considered one of the most diverse schools in the state of Arizona but that does not necessarily mean the campus accepts diversity. There is a myriad of cultures on campus but according to these students there is an underwhelming amount of services that the campus provides to them.

There are several universities across the country that provide multicultural centers for their students. One of those universities, Ohio State, has a multicultural center that is dedicated to creating an environment where they “facilitate the inclusive shared learning experiences of students where all can engage in dialogue, challenge barriers and build collaborative relationships,” according to their university website.   Ohio State’s multicultural center mission statement says their aim is to have a safe space on campus for dialogue about cultural difference, incorporate diversity within academics, and continuously works with the university in order to address discrimination within their university.

So could ASU students benefit from a similar approach to diversity?

“The main goal right now is to throw this idea out to everybody. So, we just need to get the ball rolling and get people to see that this is something that would be beneficial,” Michael Abramson said.

Michael Abramson

Getting a center may be an uphill battle for them, ASU had an intergroup relations center which has been removed from ASU since the appointment of University President Michael Crow.

ASU’s mission is to measure their university “by not by whom we exclude, but rather by whom we include and how they succeed.” Michael Crow follows a model that he coined as the “New American University,” which he believes will make ASU an institution that combines high level academics, inclusiveness to a broad demographic, and societal impact.

Although ASU does not have a physical multi-cultural center they do provide platforms for seminars that allow conversation of diversity. The College of Liberal Arts & Sciences often sponsors seminars and events featuring professors and guest speakers of all races, gender, religious practices, and sexuality to speak about their lives and experiences. However, these students are questioning if that is enough. The goal of the center, they say, is to celebrate their differences, create communities within campus, and teach others how to interact with people who are different from them.

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