What’s the Role of a College Diversity Center?
What is a Diversity Center and what can I get from going there? Who does the Center serve? Is this a place for me? These are all questions that college students may ask themselves about their campus "Diversity Center." I write the name in quotes because not every college calls themselves a "Diversity" center. Some call themselves "Intercultural", "Multicultural" or "Equity & Inclusion." The services may be split between different offices based on what populations they serve. But all of these Centers are designed to support students, and often, the wider campus community. So, what kinds of services might I find in one of these offices?
This office promotes and facilitates understanding and knowledge of others while engaging empathetically with others. Everyone identifies with these dimensions of diversity: ethnicity, race, cultural practices, sexual orientation, gender, and socio-economic status, to name a few. This office can help you find avenues to connect with people who may have different experiences than you and help you learn from others through various mediums. Some of these might be: cultural celebrations and traditions, anti-racism training(s), safe-zone training, and identity-based student groups.
Resources and Services
This office provides resources and services which ensure the safety, well-being and integration of the student body. These might include information for all students including international students, students of color, multiracial students and LGBT+ identifying students. The Center should also provide resources for those who are allies and want to help support their friends and colleagues who may feel marginalized. This office can also promote wellness for students by directing them to the appropriate resource on campus to help them grow and be empowered by their experiences. Some of these resources may be the college's counseling center, academic support centers, or college ministries.
Advocate for Equitable Policies
This office can promote and advocate for equitable solutions and policies which value the whole person and their experiences. This means the office is part of making sure students have a meaningful and accessible experience at college. If a student is not having these experiences, this office can help. This means that the office advocates for policies and procedures which promote non-discrimination and no tolerance for hate or bias incidents, including encouraging students and other campus community members to report them when they happen.
These Centers on college campuses are open to all students who want to learn and grow in their connections with others. They can be a place to take a break, have a conversation with someone, find solutions to problems, and find support with the staff and other students. These offices can help you enrich your collegiate experience tenfold because there are always things to do and learn.
As you might have guessed, these offices are designed with students in mind, so please stop in!