The 100th Missouri State Homecoming celebration was filled with class reunions, hours of tailgating and Boomer Bear waving backstage at Plaster Stadium. The Mary Jean Price Walls multicultural resource center, which held its grand reopening on Saturday, October 16, joined in the festivities.
Students, staff and community members gathered around the glass-fronted entrance to the center on the first floor of the Plaster Student Union, where notable speakers shared what happened during the renovations and their thoughts on the impact this will have on current and future students.
MSU President Clif Smart opened the program by addressing “an important goal of the university: to be welcoming to students and faculty.”
“Students wanted more places to connect and come together, and the Multicultural Resource Center is one of those places,” he said. This has been made possible through multiple sources of support, generous contributions from the Student Government Association and the Board of Governors leading initiatives to expand diversity on campus.
“There is more work to be done with the installations and the programming, but it is a step in the right direction,” said Smart.
Mark Wheeler of Missouri State Planning, Design and Construction highlighted how “diversity makes a rich tapestry with threads of equal value”. While placing the MRC in an easily identifiable area encourages community engagement, he said the goal was to create a “place of sanctuary and safety (ie) welcoming to all”.
Bethany Henry of Dake-Wells Architecture also spoke and said the company started work on renovations a year and a month before its completion. The company used campus-wide surveys to gather student feedback, and many expressed interest in having a space that could help “build a support system in the heart of campus.”
“You can’t miss the bright blue walls! Henry said, discussing the characteristics of the center. She also described the MRC as a place where students can “make lasting friendships, organize events” and more. “We hope everyone will use it to the fullest,” she said.
MSU Student Government Association Director of Diversity and Inclusion, Andrew Roberts, was one of the student representatives to step onto the podium. He explained how his role focuses on the values that should be promoted across campus.
“Diversity without inclusion is unproductive,” he said. Students can visit the MRC because it is “a space (for them) to be themselves”. Roberts also encouraged participants to “experience the diversity of those around them. “
Dr. Rabekah Stewart, Assistant Vice President of Multicultural Services, ended the ceremony with “I Am Diversity”, a poem by Charles Bennafield. “Coupled with inclusion, our lights burn longer / Together we are smarter, better and stronger / I am diversity / Yes, this is me,” he concluded.
Smart cut the ribbon at the entrance to the MRC, officially opening it to the campus community. Participants were welcomed into the space to enjoy a small reception, participate in a raffle, and relax in the warm-toned seats and comfortable benches in the study lounge.
Tours of the facility were also organized to showcase unique spaces such as the retreat room encouraging interfaith connection and the resource library with items such as books and board games. hygiene articles.
To commemorate the event, participants were encurged to sign a card of the original RCN design plans. This will be framed and displayed to visitors for years to come.
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