Center for Diversity and Inclusion to be honored at ribbon cutting ceremony
The Center for Diversity and Inclusion will be officially recognized at a ribbon cutting ceremony at 1 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 29 in the center’s home in Room B12 of the University Center South.
“The ribbon cutting is a way to allow students, faculty, staff, university officials and the community to meet the staff and learn more about the center,” Director Niya Blair said. “This is the first time the University of Houston has had a center like this. It’s really big.”
The center works with the Division of Student Affairs and Enrollment Services to foster an environment on campus that is welcoming to students of every nationality, race, gender and background.
“The center is new, so we are working to let everyone know we are here and what services we have available,” Blair said.
Marketing junior Daniella Leon said she thinks the new center is an “amazing idea.”
“It’s an important addition,” Leon said. “(This) new organization on the UH campus (will bring) together all types of cultures, and that makes it much easier to adapt as well as meet new people from the same backgrounds.”
The center is currently working to instill programs on campus like Cultural Conversations, an intercultural dialogue led by students and facilitated by staff to discuss topics ranging from race and religion to culture and disabilities. Blair said these conversations can be uncomfortable for students, but they bring about understanding.
“I want to help others move past their comfort zone and understand that inclusive excellence is a critical component to success in anything you do,” Blair said.
Sasidharan Prakasan, who is working toward his master’s in electrical engineering, said he thought students may have trouble reaching out but that the center is a good “external force” that can bring people together.
“(People) may have some hesitations in the beginning to talk to people from diverse cultures and from different places,” Prakasan said. “(The center) helps us by mixing different people together.”
Also in the works is a fall and spring speaker series that will discuss social justice issues. Cultural Connect Week is another project that consists of programs that “educate, celebrate, and connect various aspects of diversity on UH’s campus.”
The center features a new computer lounge for students to study, relax and discuss intercultural dialogue in a safe and welcoming environment as well as a “Lending Library” of diversity related resources such as books, movies and articles.
“(The library aims to) increase their understanding of important historical and currently relevant topics that relate to diversity, inclusion and social justice,” Blair said.
Blair is hopeful the center will become a “go-to” office on campus for students and organizations of all walks of life.
“I hope we impact students in a major way by providing programs that challenge their thinking and allow them to grow,” Blair said. “We are excited to be here and looking forward to being an immediate contributor to the success of UH.”
Diversity training will start in the spring and can be requested at [email protected]. The center is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.