A grand opening for the new Multicultural Center (MCC) at Western Washington University will be held at 5 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 10.
The event, free and open to the public, will celebrate the opening of the Multicultural Center, new home of the Ethnic Student Center, AS Student Advocacy and Identity Resource Centers and Multicultural Student Services.
Speakers at the event will include Michelle Vendiola, WWU alumna and NASU (Native American Student Union) member; Nate Panelo, former coordinator of the Ethnic Student Center (ESC), and Western alumna Abigail “Abby” Ramos, who served as vice president for Diversity for the Associated Students (AS) and as student trustee on Western’s Board of Trustees. WWU President Sabah Randhawa and Associated Students Vice President for Diversity Yesugen Battsengel will also speak.
"I am really excited because the MCC is a result of decades of work, especially on behalf of past students, who've allowed for people to occupy this new space. Now, when students walk in, they will feel cared about and know bigger and better things will come,” said Joselyn Chavez, AS ESC Advocacy and Programming Coordinator.
"Western's new Multicultural Center is a turning point in Western and Bellingham's history; it marks a time when students of color are leading transformational work to both survive and thrive in a predominantly white institution. The new MCC will honor students who worked to create the space and will have an immeasurable impact, giving students of color a space to engage in challenging the colonized euro centric forms of education here at WWU,” said Victoria Matey-Mendoza, ESC Programming and Events Manager.
The Multicultural Center is a project to create a new home for the Ethnic Student Center and four centers under the AS Student Advocacy and Identity Resource Centers (the Blue Resource Center; Disability Outreach Center; Queer Resource Center and Womxn’s Identity Resource Center). The expansion combines the Multicultural Center, Viking Union, Bookstore, Multipurpose Room and KUGS within one building that honors and supports the University’s growing diverse population and engages the campus to better understand multiple cultures.
The $20 million construction project, which began in February 2018, was completed the summer of 2019. In the spring of 2016, students voted in favor of a new fee to expand the Ethnic Student Center and Multicultural Services space at the Viking Union/Bookstore Complex. The fee is $30 per quarter (for students taking six or more credits) and is pledged to bond debt, funding a portion of the construction, maintenance, and facility operations of the new space. The Associated Students contributed some reserve funds to the project as well. The project’s total funding is a partnership, so in addition to the above student fee and reserves (69 percent), additional project funding sources include institutional funds (23 percent) and savings achieved by refunding some existing Viking Union bonds (7 percent).
To see a time-lapse video of the MCC's constuction, go to https://vimeo.com/343556116.