Cultural affinity spaces open in Multicultural Center


Susannah Crichton/ Iowa State Daily

Martino Harmon, senior vice president of Student Affairs, spoke at the opening of the three new cultural affinity spaces in the Multicultural Center

Susannah Crichton

The Multicultural Center in Memorial Union now has three new cultural affinity spaces for Iowa State students and staff to utilize.

Each center is designated for different heritages: the Indigenous community, El Centro for the Latino/a/x community and the Asian Americans, Pacific Islanders and Desi Americans (AAPIDA) community. At noon on Friday, faculty and student representatives of several multicultural organizations gathered to celebrate the official opening of the centers.

Kenyatta Shamburger, program coordinator for Multicultural Student Affairs, introduced the event and gave a short history of cultural centers at Iowa State.

“Cultural centers have been a part of Iowa State University’s campus since 1970 with the George A. Jackson Black Cultural Center and then in the fall of 1992 the Hispanic American Resource Center was established, and in 2001 the Asian American and Pacific Islander Awareness Coalition had space in Helser Hall,” Shamburger said. “Over the past year, the staff at the office of Multicultural Student Affairs have been working tirelessly with the team here in the Memorial Union to create a more centralized space for our cultural groups.”

Martino Harmon, senior vice president of Student Affairs, and Vernon Hurte, associate vice president for the Office of Student Affairs and dean of students, followed Shamburger with a few words on the cultural centers.

“This is an exciting day,” Hurte said. “We recognize that when we talk about this idea of sense of belonging, connection to campus, that space matters, that visual identity with the campus space matters. […] We really provide this opportunity not just for students from certain identities, but really for our entire campus. This space will be a space of connection, will be a space of conversations, will be a space where relationships are built.”

Shamburger described how students will be able to decorate the rooms with cultural artifacts and use the new white board walls to write on. Each center also requires a passcode to be able to enter.

Students Francis Jayoma, senior in finance, Andrea Cortes, junior in graphic design, and Blair Flammond, senior in nutritional science, cut the ceremonial ribbons in front of each affinity center’s door.

Jayoma, representing the Asian Student Union, talked about the importance of the new affinity space for AAPIDA.

“I think it’s the idea of, you know, going to a predominantly white institution,” Jayoma said. “You know, some of us who identify as Asian American or AAPIDA are coming from different places […] I think it’s the idea of finding a home away from home. I think it’s something that we’ve been advocating for awhile, creating that space, because I think we acknowledge […] how a lot of universities do have affinity spaces […] so I think it’s like fighting for that sort of representation, and it’s just nice to have.”