Hanna Crowley/ Mustang News

The Cross Cultural Centers have reached out to more students than ever due to an expansion and new programs.

Each center puts on a variety of events throughout the year; some are each week, such as the Pride Center’s Pride Study every Wednesday night or the Gender Equity Center’s Womenkind Empowerment and Creativity workshops every Tuesday evening. Other events, such as Pride Prom during Pride Month in April or the Vagina Monologues in May, occur once a year. 

After 12 years of putting on the original Vagina Monologues, the Cross Cultural Centers want to focus on women’s whole life experiences as opposed to focusing solely on sex. This year, the Cross Cultural Centers are changing the original script by taking script submissions from students as well as the Gender Equity Center’s student and staff writing team, with performance auditions in the first week of March. This new show is titled “Cal Poly’s OWN (Original Women’s Narratives): PowHerful Voices of Storytelling.”

In addition to the individual centers putting on events, all three team up to present Cal Poly with educational and awareness opportunities.

“We collaborate a lot,” Cross Cultural Centers coordinator and Pride Center adviser Appy Frykenberg said. “By helping and adding perspectives from our respective departments, but also by trying to get together for signature events or things that come together in an intersectional way.”’

Frykenberg took over Adam Serafin’s position as the Pride Center’s adviser this year. Serafin now covers the marketing and communications side of the Cross Cultural Centers, as well as assisting with the Gender Equity Center’s masculinity portion. Because of these changes, the Cross Cultural Centers are able to expand more by having different perspectives involved.

Another way the Cross Cultural Centers are reaching out to students is by holding a new Culture 101 series of workshops that are soon to be developed. This gives the entire campus an opportunity to get a basic understanding of different cultures and walks of life they may not have been exposed to beforehand, such as Queer 101 or Muslim Religion and Culture 101.

The Cross Cultural Faculty Symposium is a collaborative project put together by the Cross Cultural Centers.

“(This is) an effort to collaborate with faculty who may have an area of passion or research that they don’t necessarily get to talk about in the classroom,” Velasquez said. 

The first speaker on Wednesday night, Steven Ruszczycky, is an English and Interdisciplinary Studies in Liberal Arts lecturer. He spoke upon the topic of pornography and AIDS in the gay community in the past decades.

“It’s okay to talk about topics at the university that seem out there or improper,” Ruszczycky said. “It’s a major benefit for students to be exposed to all the different kinds of work that’s happening at Cal Poly.”

The umbrella term “Cross Cultural Centers” includes the Multicultural Center, the Pride Center and the Gender Equity Center. These organizations combined into the Cross Cultural Centers after two and a half years of collaboration.

“(The collaboration) was a historical conversation that we had to have,” Cross Cultural Centers’ coordinator Tammie Velasquez said. “Decades ago, centers were built in order to retain and provide community and support for underrepresented populations.”

Located in the Julian A. McPhee University Union (UU), the Cross Cultural Centers strive to foster an environment of acceptance and community for underrepresented members of the Cal Poly population. Students can gather in each of the respective centers to seek help, ask questions or socialize.

The Cross Cultural Centers’ events and times are all available on their website, along with contact information for each respective center.

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