Carr Hall Intercultural Center Plan Approved

By Ellie Reinhardt

In a campus-wide email sent Wednesday, Dean of the College and Vice President for Student Affairs Shirley Collado announced the approval of a new Intercultural Center in Carr Hall that will serve to provide students with a space to embrace diversity on campus.

The proposal was introduced last spring in response to student concern that the College lacked a space dedicated to providing for students of color, first-generation students, LGBTQ students and others who have historically been underrepresented or marginalized in higher education.

The new Intercultural Center will offer a space concentrated on combining student life and academics and work with the Center for the Comparative Study of Race and Ethnicity (CCSRE) and the PALANA (Pan-African, Latino, Asian and Native American) Academic Interest House. 

“The new center will serve the entire campus community and will build on Middlebury’s diversity and inclusion initiatives and the academic mission of the Center for Comparative Study of Race and Ethnicity (CCSRE),” Collado said. “The combination of these centers in Carr Hall will offer substantive opportunities for students, faculty and staff to interact across academic and student life.”

Collado added that the College hopes to launch the center in fall 2015. There are still a number of details that need to be addressed before the center can open but its approval has marked the most important step in its creation.

“The implementation phase of the new center will begin this coming spring and summer and will include: the naming, space usage, access and cosmetic renovations. We hope that several students will want to be involved in the implementation phase of the new center.  We are very grateful for the broad support for the creation of this important resource for students and the larger college community,”  Collado said.

Following Collado’s departure this January, Roberto Lint Sagarena, current director of the CCSRE and Associate Professor of American Studies, who, as of the approval of the center, will become its director and will oversee the operation along with Jennifer Herrera, Assistant Director of Student Activities and Miguel Fernandez, Interim Chief Diversity Officer as of Jan. 1 and Professor of Spanish. The process will also rely on support and input from students, crucial staff and faculty, and members of the administration.

One of the most immediate phases of the implementation process is determining how the space in Carr Hall will be used. The Space Committee met before Thanksgiving break to review the request for the center and, at their regular meeting in Janury, will review additional information on space use and costs for the renovations. January and the spring semester will also see the naming of the center and the decisions regarding space usage. 

On Monday, Sagarena, Herrera and Fernandez led a group of students in an informal tour of Carr Hall to discuss the use of the space. Students were encouraged to offer suggestions on the use of different rooms and what they would like to see in the new center. “This building will be your space,” Herrera said to the group.

Fernandez added, “I would like this center to be a special place that welcomes and embraces difference … A place that brings groups together who want to work on improving the environment of diversity on campus.”