Location for a multicultural center in the works

Marcel Mayo

A house on Normal Street next to the Alpha Omicron Pi house may be the ideal spot for a multicultural center.

President Gary Ransdell said he has offered the house to the Office of Diversity and Inclusion for the creation of a black cultural center. 

“I told them we would take it off the market until Oct. 16,” Ransdell said.

However, there are some unresolved issues on whether there should be an African-American cultural center or a multicultural center. 

“I’m going to invite the heads of all our African-American organizations on campus to dinner and see what our African-American community seeks,” Ransdell said. “We can only have so many centers.”

The idea of an African-American cultural center started a few years ago when a group of students were doing a research project for Saundra Ardrey, associate professor and department head of political science.

“In May 2013, 13 students in Project Freedom School course met with and submitted their proposal to Dr. Ransdell, Howard Bailey and Dr. Richard Miller,” said Ardrey. 

The original proposal named the center the Munday-Jones Cultural Center and located it in the International House.

“Last year, Dr. Miller asked that I consider changing the proposal to a multicultural center,” said Ardrey.

Ardrey also said the multicultural center would encourage academic excellence, support recruitment and retention efforts and provide student services, community development and cultural enhancement. 

“A cultural center is needed on this campus. We have letters of support from the WKU Black Alumni Association, HOLAS and a Resolution of Support from SGA,” said Ardrey. 

Vice Provost and Chief Diversity Officer Richard Miller said due to WKU’s diverse campus, there are a variety of opinions on whether WKU should have a multicultural center or a black cultural center. 

“The focus is on what are the best needs of our students,” Miller said. “My personal preference is a cultural center.”

Miller said he expects the cultural center to include a place to study, a lounge, conference rooms, seminar areas where students can congregate with faculty and maybe a computer area.

“We want students to feel comfortable,” Miller said.

Miller also hopes to receive some funding from alumni, friends and any minority groups or organizations that are willing to help out.

Miller also said they are weighing their options on where the location should be.

“We’re exploring that [Normal Street location] as an option. It’s very gratuitous for the president to make that offer,” Miller said. 

Denver graduate student Elicia Tillis said she feels WKU’s campus is itself like a multicultural center, but she feels a black cultural center is needed. 

“A lot of the budget cuts over the past years has cut a lot of the programs that were benefiting the minority students — mainly the black students,” said Tillis. “With a black cultural center, we can have those resources.”