Today, college campuses are a hotbed for conversations concerning race and identity.
Unfortunately, not all these conversations are held in a respectful and compassionate manner.
This is where the Center for Inclusive Excellence, formerly known as the Multicultural Center, comes in.
The center is a “brave space dedicated to creating and supporting an environment that reflects a collective commitment to promoting equity, advocating social justice and making excellence inclusive,” according to FSU’s website.
It is a space in which all students, faculty and staff should feel safe and confident in sharing their voices and opinions – a space where the FSU community can be educated and enlightened on issues of concern to minority and LGBT+ communities.
The Gatepost has been an advocate for a center since 2006, when we wrote an editorial calling for a safe student space, such as a multicultural center.
In our April 20, 2012, The Gatepost again addressed the need for FSU to develop a multicultural center. We editorialized that “students need to have a safe space provided by the school to meet with one another, discuss diversity issues and plan for events and on-campus initiatives.”
FSU finally constructed a multicultural center in September 2013.
However, the center is tucked away on the upper mezzanine of the Whittemore Library.
Hard to find, the space is surrounded by glass walls, allowing anyone and everyone in the library to observe students and faculty as they discuss sensitive issues.
In order to attend the events the center hosts to educate our community, one must be able to locate it.
Regrettably, the Whittemore library can be a labyrinth even for a senior.
As discussions pertaining to diversity issues expand, so should the center.
A new space should be allotted to the center – a much larger space with solid walls that is more easily accessible. A space that would provide a more intimate and personal setting for the difficult and sensitive conversations which are necessary on our campus.
The space in which the center is located was formerly a study lounge, and is best suited for that purpose.
It seems presently, FSU is in the perfect situation to develop the center, with the ongoing construction on campus creating more space and the hiring of the center’s new director, Chon’tel Washington.
O’Connor Hall would be an ideal location for the center, especially as reconstruction of that building will take place this upcoming summer. Crocker Hall would be another excellent spot.
Both buildings are close to the center of campus and relatively easy to navigate.
Washington should serve as a champion for this cause.
In an interview with The Gatepost, Washington said her goal as the new director is to “reach a broader group” and promote events.
While we believe these are admirable and necessary goals, the critical issue at hand is the center’s lack of adequate space and its location.
If the president and the trustees want to support Washington and her work, they should focus on finding a more effective and usable space in which the center can flourish.
Only an expanded center can accommodate larger events and discussions.
FSU students proved their interest in discussing diversity issues during the Black Lives Matter teach in town hall meeting, when 300 students showed up to share their teach in experiences.
While we at The Gatepost realize that it will be costly to relocate the center to a larger and more centrally located space, an institution’s values are reflected in its financial decisions and space allocations.
If FSU values diversity, safe spaces and inclusivity, it will prioritize the center’s need for expansion.