Student initiative leads to opening of Multicultural Resource Center on campus

Willamette University is creating a welcoming and inclusive space for students of various identities this fall through the opening of a new Multicultural Resource Center.

“This really was a collaborative effort,” says Delia Olmos-Garcia ’14, one of several students who championed the center. “All four of us worked on a proposal and met with students, professors, alums and administration throughout the semester.”

Students Olmos-Garcia ’14, Bridget Hinton ’14, Humberto Marquez-Mendez ’14 and Natividad Zavala ’13 helped lay the foundation for the center, which aims to create dialogue and engagement on such topics as gender, ability, sexual identity, religion, race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, language and nationality.

Another advocate for the center was Margarita Gutierrez ’12, who promoted the idea last fall by publishing an opinion piece in the Collegian and brainstorming with a group of 30 students.

“During my freshman year at Willamette, conversations about creating a center at Willamette were hopeful but distant among those I considered my mentors,” Gutierrez says. “Now, it’s great to see that this center was the work and effort of many generations of Willamette students and staff.”

The Multicultural Resource Center will be located in what is now the Writing Center, which will move to a new location in Ford Hall.

Olmos-Garcia and other students will work this summer to find funding to sustain the space, but the plan is to have the center run on student work and involvement.

“The work of past and current Willamette students was acknowledged by the administration, and our efforts took us a step forward in addressing issues of diversity and inclusivity on campus,” Olmos-Garcia says. “We are looking forward to moving into our center and making the space what we dream it to be.”