College of the Canyons continues to expand its resources to students by introducing a Multicultural Center on campus. The soft virtual opening, held on Nov. 30, introduced the benefits and the excitement this Multicultural Center has to offer the campus culture.
What started as an idea to create a women’s center on campus has now branched out to include the campus community. The Sociology department and its faculty and members Katie Coleman, Pamela Williams-Paez, and Paul Wickline introduced the need for a space to encourage equity and diversity.
“What started as a small conversation, and this seemingly almost impossible idea a few years ago has snowballed into ‘what harm would there be,’ and how a place like this could potentially help students,” Colemen said.
Help from the campus Leadership Education in Action Program (LEAP) Solution team contributed to making this idea into a reality.
In June, with the help of 80 students, faculty, and staff members, the idea of a Multicultural Center was put into action. College of the Canyons’ mission statement highlights the need for accessible and enriched learning that prepares students with skills when venturing into their journey in pursuing their goals.
With the mission statement in mind, the Multicultural Center will serve as a space for dynamic learning while also providing experiences for students to engage and embrace diversity.
“More important than innovation, the Multicultural Center builds on our efforts to always work towards creating environments that ensure that all students feel they belong here, have a chance to engage, be listened to and be heard,” said Dr. Dianne G. Van Hook, Santa Clarita’s Community College District chancellor. “To engage, to encourage, to empower, to equip and to enrich the students and the campus communities lives.”
With College of the Canyons already having a diverse range of clubs and alliances such as the Islamic Cultural Society such as Muslim Student Association, Jewish Club/Hillel, LatinX Alliance and African American/Black Alliance, the Multicultural Center will unite students in equity by providing a space to embrace and share their culture and differences.
“That’s really what we are trying to create here, a space where people can express their views, experiences and identify creative courses where (the Multicultural Center) can be a learning space for us to build community and build bridges,” Williams-Paez said.
Not only are the staff and faculty excited and eager for the Multicultural Center, the students are as well. Nooran Syed, a student at College of the Canyons and coordinator of the Islamic Cultural Society – Muslim Student Association, recalled her first time creating a group in recognizing minorities with a similar purpose in mind.
“That’s what really hit home for me, with the Islamic Cultural Society, that’s what I planned on doing,” Syed said. “I wanted to create a safe space for the Muslim community on campus, but with the Multicultural Center, we are doing it on a larger scale.”
Although the exact location for the Multicultural Center has yet to be decided, the excitement from faculty, staff, and students continues. Campus culture at College of the Canyons is set to be redefined in the near future. While plans for the Multicultural Center are underway, campus clubs and alliances continue to embrace equity.
As Vida Manzo, coordinator of College of the Canyons LatinX Alliance stated, “United we stand, divided we fall.”