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Multicultural Center

Multicultural Center

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The Multicultural Center, based on the EMU student union hall, ideally aspired to be a center “where all students would be welcomed to meet, plan, and help with educating the community about diversity.†The student-funded MCC was approved in the mid-1990s and became the catalyst for a series of changes. The MCC is a hub of activism, connecting students of all races and backgrounds, especially by listserve and computer bulletin boards to encourage collaboration around diversity programming and education. The MCC has sponsored annual conferences on diversity, featuring renown keynote speakers including historians Howard Zinn (author of People’s History of the United States), professors Angela Davids, poet/playwright Amiri Baraka, actor edward James Olmos, activist Bobby Seale, Father Roy Bourgeois, global performance artist Guillermo Gomez-Pena, Yolando King (daughter of MLK), the Reverend Jesse Jackson, Adelina Anthony, Elaine Brown, Athen’s Boys Choir, among Many others. The MCC accommodates any meetings of student unions, educational and cultural workshops, guest speakers and artists, art displays, open mic spoken word events, hip hop concerts, etc. The MCC also houses a resource library of books and videos, and a small computer lab for students to work on academic and union projects. The MCC provides potential coalition space for disparate groups in one physical location, encouraging dialogue and cooperation towards achieving common goals, as well as union general meeting space.


A significant result of the struggle in 1999 against a campus hate crime against women of color, and part of the overall effort to achieve more equity and a climate of fairness and safety on campus, was the initial project of 10 student interns who researched and formulated a new diversity initiative plan. The diversity interns defined the concept of diversity in a broad inclusive way, combining gender and ethnic constituents’ concerns and derhands:

“It (diversity) means recognizing our individual differences. These can be along the dimensions of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, socio0economic status, age, physical abilities, religious beliefs, political beliefs, or other ideologies. It is the exploration of these differences in a safe, positive, and nurturing environment moving beyond simple tolerance to embracing and celebrating the rich dimensions of diversity contained in each individual.†(from original U.O. diversity internship web site)

Since then, the student staff, student volunteer base and faculty/staff allies of the MCC have taken up numerous campaigns to improve the climate of the campus, including the effort to rid the campus of its past contractual affiliations with hate radio; to stop institutional efforts to cut back staff at the Office of Multicultural Academic Success; and to resist culturally incompetent assaults by EMU administrators on the MCC and its staff; as well as to coalition with faculty and the ASUO to departmentalize Ethnic Studeies and Women’s Studies etc.

“In the next millennium, the University of Oregon will continue to change. Students of color have become agents of change, altering and adding value to educational policies, changing the direction of curriculum; and calling attention to an unfriendly campus climate that has too often tolerated racism, (sexism, homophobia, and other oppressive behaviors.) Working together in coalitions as well as in separate groups, students of color (and other underrepresented groups) have been instrumental in pressing for progress. By questioning and challenging the university’s academic and social life, students have advocated for improvements that build a safe and culturally pluralistic learning environment.â€

– excerpt from the book Making a Difference? University Students of Color Speak Out, (chapter 6) by Donna Wong and Julia Lesage (Littlefield Publishers)


Historical Summary

The Multicultural Center was founded, sustained, and developed by student activists of diverse backgrounds and cultures, resulting from historically recent efforts to create a more inclusive and diverse campus community since 1995. The MCC was born and developed out of the campaign for a multicultural curriculum requirement that would encourage scholarship, a more tolerant respectful campus community, and a more accurate, truthful and inclusive pedagogy to prepare students for an increasingly diverse world. It was formed to fill the needs of students of color and other marginalized students that were not sufficiently addressed by the university’s other programs and services.

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