Topeka, Kan. – Washburn University President Jerry Farley, student leaders and Washburn leadership will host a virtual grand opening of the Washburn University Multicultural Intersectional Learning Space Friday, Sept. 18 at 3 p.m. Members of the community are invited to watch the event live via the Washburn University Diversity and Inclusion Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/DiversityBods/live/ or on Youtube at https://youtu.be/oMLMdJB4BpE.
The learning space is open to all students and will be focused on student support, safety, outreach, intersectional learning and leadership to help improve cultural understanding throughout the campus community. There will be an emphasis on students who identify as belonging to a historically marginalized population and helping them continue through to graduation. Intersectionality recognizes that identity markers, like gender, race, ethnicity, etc., do not exist independently of each other.
“Washburn University works to be a campus community that welcomes and supports all individuals, providing resources and educational opportunities that foster inclusive learning,” said Dr. Eric Grospitch, vice president of student life for Washburn University. “Student centers like this are being opened throughout the country and at other Kansas schools because research shows support like this improves respect, inclusion and collaboration across campuses.”
Other Kansas colleges and universities also report similar centers are necessary to serve the needs of students who identify in minority or historically marginalized groups. And, those students are enrolling in greater numbers. Washburn University has seen a steady increase in their population of students identifying as Black/African American and Hispanic/Latin over the last five years.
“Our multicultural students told us they wanted a place to feel at home and valued on campus,” said Danielle Dempsey-Swopes, Washburn University director of university diversity and inclusion. “One of pillars/focus is for this location to serve as a welcoming gathering space for students to engage in mentoring, leadership, and social and emotional support activities that assist in their academic success and retention toward graduation.”
The two other pillars for the space are intersectional education and social justice, and purposeful coalitions and leadership. There will programing in the facility to allow students to have discussions and share ideas. Students will also have to the opportunity to engage in coalition building with other student organizations, as well as on and off campus social justice advocacy and community engagement.
“The many diverse populations, cultures, points of view and stories represented at Washburn provide a rich opportunity to learn not only about each other but about a bigger world” said Isaiah Collier, director of involvement and student development for Washburn University. “This was really the motivation behind identifying this space as intersectional – rather than looking to define ourselves as one thing, like race or gender, we are complex and influenced by a number of factors.”
The Washburn University Division of Student Life, the Washburn University Office of University Diversity and Inclusion and the Washburn University Office of Student Involvement and Development will oversee the Multicultural Intersectional Learning Space. Programing will be coordinated by those offices in partnership with the Washburn Student Government Association, Campus Activities Board and the Student Diversity and Inclusion Council.
1. September 18, Grand Opening Program
Comments on University Commitment to Inclusion
Remarks and Ribbon Cutting
2. Member of the media: Due to COVID-19 and social distancing requirements, a very limited number of people will be allowed to attend this event in person (see list above). If you wish to attend this event in person, you must contact the Washburn University public relation office first to ensure there is adequate room for you. If you do not contact us first, it is possible you will be turned away.