EDITORIAL: Intercultural Engagement can foster inclusivity

EditorialStudents are generally familiar with many of the programs offered through the Office of Student Development, such as Greek life, student organizations and Marquette Student Government. The Center for Intercultural Engagement, however, previously called the Multicultural Center, is foreign to many students.

The center provides culturally diverse programming and space for students, including a conference room, couches, study areas, a television and a small kitchen. The center’s core initiatives are celebrating diversity, social justice education, leadership development, student support and mentoring, campus collaborations and advocacy.

While the center serves a vital purpose on campus, it may too often be seen as a place only for minority students. As the Tribune reported last week, a discussion held in the AMU on inclusivity among cultural and ethnic groups led to many students concluding that while Marquette currently has a student body that is more diverse than it has been in recent years, this diversity is not always well-exposed. The CIE changed its name last July to try to better emphasize that its opportunities are for all students of all cultures and to broaden “an understanding of diversity that is inclusive of more than racial and ethnic identities.” We applaud OSD for this thoughtful decision. We also encourage all students, regardless of race or background, to learn more about the Center for Intercultural Engagement and take advantage of its opportunities.

As a Jesuit institution, it is Marquette’s mission to promote all forms of social justice and support the well-being of all students. The center addresses issues surrounding faith and justice, two parts of Marquette’s Catholic foundation.

The center also seeks to tie students’ lives into their education. It hosts McNair Colloquia, a collaboration with the Ronald E. McNair Scholars Program, which supports students from disadvantaged backgrounds at 200 different institutions to present research projects with guidance and mentoring from Marquette faculty.

With the official establishment of the new Gender and Sexuality Resource Center on campus last August, the Center for Intercultural Engagement gained a new partner in its mission for inclusivity. Each year, the GSRC will focus a series of events for the LGBT community on campus, including the Day of Silence. We hope the centers will work together to strengthen the resources for gender issues and diversity on campus.

The Center for Intercultural Engagement’s vision statement describes its aim “to foster a diverse and inclusive environment where all students can engage in meaningful relationships across differences with other students, faculty and staff.”

There can be no meaningful relationships across diverse backgrounds that form through the center’s programming if most of the student body does not feel included at the center or feels confused about what it offers. We urge the university to continue to reach out to students and celebrate its diverse culture more openly.

We are proud to be part of a university that provides resources to typically underrepresented populations on campus, but sometimes these programs can appear to be dividing the student population more than uniting it. We hope the Center for Intercultural Engagement is seen as a truly welcoming space where all students can interact.