Changes in the Diversity Center

Nicole Capozziello

Since the beginning of the school year, the Diversity Center has been the site of a lot of changes, not the least of which have been a few sharp new paint jobs.
Mohammed Bey, the Acting Assistant Dean of Students for Multicultural Affairs, has been the driving force behind many of these changes. A Lawrence admissions counselor from 2006 to 2008, Bey moved the block-and-a-half to the blue house on Meade Street, near Downer and the quad, before the start of the 2008 fall term.
One noticeable change has been the transition of MCAC, the Multicultural Affairs Committee, to CODA, which stands for the Committee on Diversity Affairs.
This change was initiated by LUCC president James Duncan-Welke in response to the homophobic acts across campus during fall term. Duncan-Welke realized that, while J-Board acts as a sanctioning body, LUCC did not have an outlet that was adequately supporting and promoting Lawrence’s diverse student population.
By its description, the former Multicultural Affairs Committee dealt specifically with just that – multicultural diversity, a definition that both Duncan-Welke and Bey believed was not being fully understood.
This is where things become a bit linguistic. Bey states that “to be multicultural is everything but not to everybody.”
The new legislation, passed by LUCC in the fall, promotes understanding and awareness of not only multicultural diversity, but also diversity of gender, sexuality, and religion.
Bey believes that the new name is more encompassing and adequately reflects the openness of the committee and the Diversity Center itself, which is intended to be a way to connect student diversity-oriented student organizations.
While the Diversity Center is already utilized as a meeting place by several campus organizations and even a music class, Bey hopes that the student body will further employ its resources.
In addition to a resource room brimming with craft supplies, students also have access to an extensive book collection.
The center’s student staff have been working to catalog the house’s films and books – covering the walls of rooms throughout the house – and to establish a formal check-out system for students.
In his own time, Bey has been updating the Diversity Center portion of the Lawrence Web site and adding helpful links for diversity organizations across the spectrum.
Going beyond the call of duty, Bey has also been gradually giving the house a facelift. The formerly blank walls have been adorned with paintings, while Bey is slowly working on painting the rooms. After the improvements, the Diversity Center will be holding a campus-wide open house, which will include information sessions.
In the meantime, the Diversity Center and CODA have been collaborating with campus organizations, academic departments, and community organizations such as Harmony Café, with whom the Diversity Center will be hosting a hip-hop night in the coming months.
During Black History Month, CODA, along with the Office of Multicultural Affairs, will be bringing in two speakers to present on and discuss race issues.For more information on recent changes to the Diversity Center, drop by the house or check out: http://www.lawrence.edu/dept/student_dean/diversity_center/

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