|Multicultural House Plans to Serve as a Home for All
November 09, 2010
by Sarah Steely ‘14
|The Multicultural House's student Community Connectors spell out their name.
On Thursday, Nov. 11, Davidson College invites the public to the grand opening of the new Multicultural House, a refurbished Patterson Court house intended to stimulate student interest in and appreciation for diversity.
The project is an outgrowth of the Strategic Assessment Plan's imperative to create a more diverse and inclusive community at the college. The grand opening is an opportunity for students, faculty, staff, and the public to learn more about the house, its purpose, and its benefits. The event will begin at 4 p.m. in the Multicultural House, and will include refreshments, music and an appearance by College President Tom Ross .
Patty Perillo, Associate Dean of Students and Director of Residence Life, was a member of the implementation team that created the house. She noted, "Although diversity education happens all over campus, we wanted to create a physical space that represents the college's goals for diversity."
According to its mission statement, the Multicultural House will host performances, exhibitions, lectures, and films, and build a library that focuses on issues in diversity and inclusivity.
It will be managed by a paid and trained student staff of "Community Connectors" who will support individuals and organizations dealing with concerns in diversity. They will work in the house during its hours: 9 a.m. to midnight on Mondays through Thursdays, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Fridays, and during scheduled programs on the weekends. Each Community Connector is selecting an issue in diversity as an area of emphasis in his or her work with the house.
Perillo acknowledged that while the house is intended to serve all students, some students may choose not to engage in Multicultural House activities. But, she emphasized, the house will play an important role on campus by providing a safe space for those who choose to participate.
Betsy Lyles '11, a Community Connector and the residence life office's head staff member for inclusive communities, said the house will serve as "an invitation to embrace the diversity we talk so much about, weaving it into the fabric of the college so that we all begin to appreciate and value the differences each individual brings to the campus."
The lower level of the house features a home theatre for screening films and viewing presentations. The upper level includes a lounge, a kitchen, an office, a conference room and an array of tables and comfortable couches to facilitate study and relaxation. Students have decorated the house with their own paintings, photography, and inspirational quotations.
The house has been operational for several weeks already. It has also hosted lectures, documentary screenings, group meetings, Perspective Forum discussions on gender and ability, and an En Route discussion on musician Ben Sollee. Interfaith Youth Corps, Davidson International Association, and Asian Culture and Awareness Association have also hosted events in the Multicultural House.
Although Davidson College prides itself on respect for inclusion and diversity, this new space allows groups and individual students a constant and more tangible reminder of the school's mission to accept and celebrate differences and similarities.
Davidson is a highly selective independent liberal arts college for 1,920 students located 20 minutes north of Charlotte in Davidson, N.C. Since its establishment in 1837 by Presbyterians, the college has graduated 23 Rhodes Scholars and is consistently regarded as one of the top liberal arts colleges in the country. Through The Davidson Trust, the college became the first liberal arts institution in the nation to replace loans with grants in all financial aid packages, giving all students the opportunity to graduate debt-free. Davidson competes in NCAA athletics at the Division I level, and a longstanding Honor Code is central to student life at the college.