The Center, Every Student. Every Story’s renaming to The Multicultural Center was unveiled at the Multicultural Center Welcome event on Thursday, Sept. 23. The Center’s rebranding comes with increased collaboration with the Associated Students of the University of Nevada to cater to students at the University of Nevada, Reno.
This is not the first time The Center has changed names—in 2016, The Center for Student Cultural Diversity was renamed to The Center Every Student. Every Story. in an effort to increase inclusivity.
“The students, staff and faculty of The Multicultural Center spent more time explaining the old name than discussing the Center’s programs, services, and purpose,” Jose Miguel Piledo Leon, director of The Multicultural Center, told The Sagebrush in a statement via email. “The new name is more straightforward and describes the purpose without the need for further explanation.”
The Multicultural Center Welcome event took place at the Joe Crowley Student Union Theatre with an audience of about 50 including members of the Indigenous community and university administrators.
The event began with a land acknowledgement read by Asian Pacific-Islander Coordinator and event emcee Keola Wong. The land acknowledgement was followed by powwow dancers from local tribal nations in the Great Basin area.
The audience was asked to stand in acknowledgment of the performers.
“When they perform, it is important to acknowledge that they are all directly tied to the Northern Paiute, Washoe, Western Shoshone, and Southern Paiute tribes in our state,” Wong said.
Shannon Ellis, the University of Nevada, Reno’s vice president of student services, introduced Bill Johnson, the university’s vice president of advancement. Johnson began his appointment on Sept. 7.
Ellis explained Johnson “brings deep Indigenous roots to his work and to our campus.”
Johnson was an administrative fellow at Harvard, where he took part in a leadership training program for academic administrators of color. He was assigned to the Harvard University Native American Program during his 2007-08 fellowship at the university.
Ellis added the center should be a place of learning and fostering diversity of the university’s campus.
“Let this Multicultural Center be at the heart of all your learning, as well as a place to find fellowship, connection, and support,” Ellis said.
The Multicultural Center’s staff is in charge of organizing culturally-relevant programming for students and recognizing members of various diasporas. Currently, the center is looking to hire a Latinx coordinator.
The last speaker of the event was the artist of The Multicultural Center’s brand new mural, Sansa Sansa. Sansa Sansa, described by Wong as a “multidisciplinary artist of Purepecha descent”, recited a poem he wrote about the struggles of Indigenous people across the continent.
The artist gave a statement about his mural and emphasized his criticism of the university’s receival of money from the mining industry.
“I put ‘our bodies, our land’ as a representation to connect the destructive mining industry and these extractive practices that also result in the extraction of our people, of our sisters,” Sansa said. “I know that this institution gets a lot of money from the mining industry, so I thought it was very important to be critical of it … and understand that consent is more important than the demands of making money and raping the earth.”
The event was hosted by the Joe Crowley Student Union, Graduate Student Association, ASUN Student Diversity and Inclusion Department and the Wolf Shop.
Since The Multicultural Center organizes event programming on campus, Kaeli Britt, director of diversity and inclusion for ASUN, said it is an ASUN goal to increase collaboration and establish a “firm connection” between them.
“It was just really important to me to collaborate on events, and that way we increase student participation and engagement rather than trying to put on two different competing events,” Britt said.
Leon echoed Britt’s goal and said The Center would continue to collaborate with ASUN.
“The Multicultural Center has a continuing and ever-growing relationship with ASUN; we share our calendar of annual events and ensure that we collaborate when it is mutually advantageous for our areas to work together, ” Leon told The Sagebrush.
The Multicultural Center has been a home for students of all backgrounds since its inception. The Center hopes with new furniture, a new mural and a new name it can reach more students moving forward.
Olive Giner can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @NevadaSagebrush.