New university multicultural center opens with more space, learning and sharing
As a freshman, Paul Amara was hesitant about visiting the University of Scranton’s Multicultural Center.
His experiences in what students call “the MC” and the friends he met there changed his life. The senior accounting major from Williamsport is more open and has a more positive attitude.
“I wouldn't be where I am today without it,” Amara said.
The university’s community celebrated the MC's new location on the first floor of the DeNaples Student Center. In its new bigger space, more students will learn about diversity, equity, inclusion and social justice. They can spread out on cozy couches or meet in a conference room. The MC was designed with student ideas and input.
The center began as the Office of Multicultural Affairs in 1997, said Jose Sanchez, assistant director of the Cross Cultural Centers. He described it as a beacon for unity and partnerships. It’s a space that promotes the understanding of different cultures and identities.
“We help students find comfort here and be challenged to learn about themselves and others casually or through formal programming," he said.
The current freshman class at the University of Scranton is the most diverse class in the institution’s history. Twenty-seven percent of the students identify as people of color; over 30% are first generation students, said the Rev. Joseph Marina, S.J., university president.
The university has a Diversity Equity and Inclusion strategic plan. They are reaching out to new geographic areas and schools and offering more generous financial packages, especially to students in need, said Marina.
“We are serious about our long-term commitment to diversity," he said.
It's important for all of the students, regardless of their background, to be able to appreciate and understand differences in culture, traditions, in creeds and religions and in sexual orientation, he said.
“All of these differences have a richness that they bring to us. And instead of treating differences as though we're something to be afraid of, we want our students to embrace it," Marina said.
All students are welcome at the Multicultural Cultural Center.