The MultiCultural Center (MCC), Gender Equity Center and Pride Center, previously three separate entities, combined to launch the Cross Cultural Centers this past fall.
One quarter after the creation of the Cross Cultural Centers, the work in progress has received vast support.
This past summer, the MultiCultural Center (MCC), Gender Equity Center and Pride Center joined forces to become the Cross Cultural Centers, which officially launched in fall quarter. Although each organization maintained its independence and physical space, coordinators have made an effort to support all aspects of a student’s identity — a change that students, staff and faculty have responded positively to.
“The best part about the new change is being able to meet students where they’re at,” said Adam Serafin, an assistant coordinator for the Cross Cultural Centers who works with the Pride Center, “being able to support students in all of their identities, not feeling like when a student comes to us — who’s looking for support, who’s looking for community — that we need to give them an A, B or C option. It’s more of an A, B and C.”
Cross Cultural Centers assistant director Erin Echols, who oversees and works with all three organizations, said they have streamlined their communication process with faculty, so they are able to provide their students with opportunities to attend Cross Cultural Centers events. They have also collaborated with more clubs on campus, Echols said.
Under the previous system, some students may have felt like they had to check certain parts of their identity at the door, Serafin said. For example, for a queer student of color, the student might feel like he or she had to choose one organization — the Pride Center or the MCC — and not the other.
Now, the focus has shifted.
This past quarter, the Cross Cultural Centers began hosting events that the three organizations collaborated on, providing a chance for students to embrace all aspects of their identity.
Instead of each organization hosting their own social each quarter, the Cross Cultural Centers hosted a “welcome back” social in Fall — which was “packed,” Serafin said. He said the event’s turnout was the most tangible evidence of student support for the Cross Cultural Centers, although they have received many positive comments from students and faculty.
“We really haven’t heard anything negative from anyone,” Echols said.
Students can expect to see more events geared toward their needs — as part of the switch, the Cross Cultural Centers are focusing their resources on students who reach out and become involved.
Each center tweaked their mission statement to reflect the new focus, Serafin said, aiming to educate Cal Poly as a whole about various issues.
In addition to occasional educational events, the Cross Cultural Centers are supporting their students in new ways. To serve their students academically, the Pride Center is now hosting Study with Pride, where students can learn study habits and resources every Wednesday night. Other dialogue sessions will be held for students to talk about issues they share, providing a safe community for discussion and connection. The Cross Cultural Centers’ website provides a full list of events.
As internally-focused events increase, however, other activities have to decrease.
“We’re just really aware of our capacity in terms of the number of staff we have,” Serafin said. “And we’re trying to be really aware of our limits in the amounts of things we can do and put on.”
That was a difficult change for the organizations. Echols said they had always been the ones that said “yes” to everything, and usually overbooked themselves. But the Cross Cultural Centers have chosen their commitments carefully so far.
During the summer, the MCC, Gender Equity Center and Pride Center faced the challenge of “figuring out how it all works together,” Serafin said. This year is serving as a trial run for the Cross Cultural Centers, and they are learning as they go. Some less successful series will not be returning, while others will be coming back.
The Cross Cultural Centers expanded their dialogue sessions and added a queer dialogue series, which evolved partially from student requests for more in-person dialogues.
“If students are saying they want to see something, or there’s something they’re interested in having, we try to be as receptive as we can to provide that,” Serafin said.
Although resources and details have been challenging, everyone involved agrees the change has been successful so far.
“It’s such a natural relationship, and I think a lot of our returning students really like it,” said Que Dang, a Cross Cultural Centers assistant coordinator who works with the MCC. “Students feel like there’s a bigger community for them on campus … I think it’s much more meaningful for them to get the things that they need.”