New resource and cultural centers offer students support services, comforts of home on campus
As of Jan. 25, the DePaul community now has access to the programs, resources and spaces offered by four identity-specific cultural and resource centers. The four centers include: the Asian Pacific Islander and Desi American Cultural Center, the LGBTQA+ Resource Center, the Latinx Cultural Center and the Black Cultural Center. Located on the third floor of the O'Connell building on the Lincoln Park Campus, four classrooms have been transformed into vibrant and comfortable spaces for any student at DePaul to enjoy.
"The spaces will hopefully be a home away from home for students where they can study and hang out with friends between and after classes," says Kimberly Everett, director of the Office of Multicultural Student Success. "The furniture is beautiful; the space is comfortable. There is individual study space, even a refrigerator and a microwave. We really tried to put all of the touches of home into these centers."
In addition to providing designated space, staff of the resource and cultural centers aim to provide support services and study the unique needs of each community. The staff also will collaborate to monitor trends and issues observed across the different communities.
"So far, we have 13 student workers. We are thrilled to see everything come together and look forward to seeing what will happen with these centers," says Paige Gilberg, a student who works as a front desk staff member. "Everyone has done a wonderful job making the place comfortable and feeling like home."
In addition to student workers, several DePaul staff members hold specific roles in the centers:
- Cory Barnes, coordinator of the Black Cultural Center
- Johnny LaSalle, coordinator for intersectional programming
- Monica Ramos, coordinator of the Latinx Cultural Center
- Michael Riley, coordinator for the LGBTQA+ Resource Center
- Patricia Santoyo-Marin, associate director for the Office of Multicultural Student Success and point-person for undocumented students
Santoyo-Marin also will oversee operations and planning for the Asian Pacific Islander and Desi-American Cultural Center until the university appoints a coordinator. The staff and student workers will plan programs and events that highlight, celebrate and advocate on behalf of the community populations.
The university created the new centers in response to student, faculty and staff requests for targeted support services in a designated space. So that the centers would not feel separate or spread out, university leadership made it a priority to find a space that could accommodate all needs in one area.
"DePaul students know they can come here as a place welcoming of their identity," says Lela Gaye, a student employee of the centers.
As a space designed to meet the needs of students, the resource and cultural centers' staff are excited to incorporate student feedback to make the centers as welcoming and useful as possible.
"We look forward to students breathing life into the space, hearing laughter, conversation and thoughtful debates happen in the centers," Everett says.
The resource and cultural centers are open Monday-Thursday 9 a.m. - 9 p.m. and Friday 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.