Ball State administrators celebrated the new Multicultural Center with a ribbon-cutting Oct. 23, approximately two years after they broke ground on the construction site in 2019.
The development of the Multicultural Center began in 2017 after Ball State President Geoffrey Mearns said he wanted a space that reflected the university’s diversity.
“I thought it was very important to identify a location in the center of campus, not on the periphery of campus, because of the message that it will send about how important this value and this commitment is to all of us here at Ball State,” Mearns said.
The decision to build a new Multicultural Center also stemmed from various issues with the old Multicultural Center located by the L.A. Pittenger Student Center, with one of the biggest being it wasn’t wheelchair accessible.
“[The new location is] also accessible to all people because the [central] location also has an elevator so that people who have mobility challenges can get to the second floor, and as I say, the location — plus the ice cream shop — will make it attractive to students,” Mearns said.
The new Multicultural Center not only hosts activities that educate and support students, but offers a plethora of other opportunities.
“The other thing is it provides the opportunity for small group engagement [and] for organizations to host events,” said Ro-Anne Royer Engle, vice president for student affairs. “The kitchen was particularly important for us, having that multipurpose room space that you could use for different things. But what's important — having that open space where if students just in groups of four or two just want to come and talk or work on homework — that is the kind of space we wanted to create.”
In addition to creating a space where all students can feel welcome, Ball State staff wanted to preserve the history and purpose the previous center had for the campus community.
“It's a super important building for so many generations of students when it used to be the Black student house and it really was an important place when, many times, Black students were not able to be in other parts of the community,” said Melinda Messineo, professor of sociology. “So, we preserve and honor the memories of this really important structure, while giving it a place in the center of the heart of campus.”
Contact Shwetha Sundarrajan with comments at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @fengshwe.