Cultural center would detract from diversity

This letter is in reference to the Sept. 13 article titled, “No official blueprint set for possible multicultural center,” by author Renee Wunderlich. The author summarizes the Office of Inclusion and Intercultural Relations (OIIR) Assistant Director Ross Wantland’s vision for the possible diversity building.

This has been a controversial issue. Wunderlich said it “was met with criticism from some members of the cultural houses… However, the public outcry has subsided.” But has the outcry really subsided? Or are we just not listening anymore? I do not believe that the consolidation of cultural houses and resource centers sends a positive image of “diversity”. Merriam-Webster defines diversity as “the inclusion of people of different races or cultures in a group or organization.” While you would think such a building would promote diversity, I believe it really detracts from it.

It detracts from diversity because you can’t just throw all of the diversity into one building. The placement of four cultural houses, the LGBTQ and Women’s Resource center basically puts all stigmatized groups in one location. We might as well name it MARC (Minority and Race Center); it will fit well with the tradition of acronyms on the U of I campus.

Wantland said that lots of students who come to the University are from homogeneous communities, and that the new building may be able to promote cross-cultural engagement. But I feel like if the students from homogeneous communities never visited these centers before, what will change with the new building? While I am sure the new building will be a state-of-the-art facility, and sustainable for years to come, it just turns cultures and identities into a new construction project. Not only physically, but the theoretical construction of institutionalized disparities which these groups already face.

Justin Weaver,

senior in LAS