The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

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USU considers building a multicultural center in future

Daily Sundial

A multicultural center is being considered by University Student Union officials and could reach the planning stage this year or in 2007. If built, the center would help people gain exposure to other cultures at CSUN.

The center is still only a proposed idea, said Debra Hammond, USU executive director.

USU officials have been thinking about building a center for the last few years, she said.

If built, USU officials said they hope to offer programming that highlights cultures on campus. The center could possibly include a library of resources and materials, including videos.

The center could work in conjunction with other departments to coordinate events on campus such as Black History Month and Cinco De Mayo, Hammond said.

“We’re in Los Angeles. We have one of the most cultural and ethnically diverse student bodies in the country, and it would be great if we could cap on that and celebrate our various cultures,” she said.

Hammond said she wanted to make it clear that the purpose of the center would be to help people maintain their identity, and not trying to combine and compromise peoples’ cultures. It would be communities within the community.

The Facilities and Commercial Services Committee would conduct the examination of the center’s feasibility, Hammond said.

A survey would probably be conducted of CSUN students to see if there is interest in the idea.

If the committee approves it, and the student body shows interest, USU officials could then proceed with a vote.

The students would likely vote on the issue as they would on ideas proposed by the USU Board of Directors, Hammond said.

No location has been selected for the unplanned center, though it would likely not be located in the new USU since that area is full already, Hammond said.

Since the USU is a non-profit organization, it has to plan to build the center well ahead of time. The plan for the construction of the USU that is underway now was started in 1998. The multicultural center, if planned and approved, would likely take as long to be built as the new USU construction, Hammond said.

The new pub, Wells Fargo, Subway and the new USU building were all part of that construction plan.

No estimate has been conducted as to how much the center would cost, but there would be an estimate done by the time of any student referendum, Hammond said.

An estimate would be completed by the time students get a chance to vote on it.

The USU has not had a referendum on the ballot since 2000 when the construction of the new USU was passed.

Tom Spencer-Walters, Pan-African Studies department chair, and Juana Mora, acting chair of the Asian-American Studies Department, both agree that the center would be a good idea as they have heard it planned out so far.

There are many problems surrounding these kinds of centers because some people feel left out, said Mora, who helped develop a multicultural center at Cal Poly.

Having the USU take the lead for a multicultural center would add credibility, said Spencer-Walters, adding that the Pan-African Studies Department would welcome the help.

Spencer-Walters said he has concerns that, should the multicultural center be built, it should compliment the activities of the black house instead of compete with it, because the PAS department would like to maintain itself as a separate and distinctive identity.

Victor Flores can be reached at

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