Calling All Cultures

The College should keep in mind cultural groups when it reconsiders student space

With Harvard’s recent decision to finally satisfy students’ clamoring for a women’s center, it seems that the University is truly beginning to recognize the importance of the needs of all undergraduates. Over the years, the advent of female and cultural student groups and of academic departments and programs devoted to exploring a wide array of gender, cultural, and racial issues has partially undermined the stereotype that Harvard caters only to elite white males. While the forthcoming women’s center is certainly one more step in this right direction, Harvard must continue pressing forward in this vein and create a multicultural center.

Much the same way there is a dire need for a women’s center, so too would the student body benefit immensely from the presence of a multicultural center. Multicultural centers are quite common on campuses throughout the nation, and at a school like Harvard—with our self-proclaimed passionate commitment to diversity—the lack of such a center is a glaring omission.

A multicultural center would serve a multitude of purposes once erected. Primarily, and most practically, it would alleviate some of the student space issues that are currently afflicting the campus. In our current state of affairs, the Black Students Association, one of the largest and most prominent student groups on campus—cultural or otherwise—has its office in the ultra-glamorous location of—drum-roll please—Holworthy basement! Meanwhile, the offices of the numerous other ethnic and cultural organizations—those that even have offices—are scattered to the four winds, with no centralized location of any kind. A multicultural center would solve these problems of office space, and additionally could provide study space and areas for meetings.

Beyond the practical space concerns, a multicultural center would prove enriching both to students of color and others. It could function as an open, welcoming environment for the student body to learn about, understand, and become comfortable with cultures different from their own. Following in the example of other such facilities like Columbia’s Intercultural Resource Center, Harvard’s cultural center could offer art exhibits, lecture series, diversity training, and discussion groups. To further promote an atmosphere of learning, the center could even contain a library devoted entirely to information on Black and African cultures, Hispanic cultures, Asian cultures and more.

Finally, a multicultural center would help serve as a sort of unifying location for all students of color. Social space would need to be an integral part of the center, and would help to recreate the sorely missed feelings of concrete community that many feel were lost through randomization of the housing lottery.


With the creation of a multicultural center, Harvard would do its undergraduates an enormous service, and continue asserting its devotion to ensuring that there is ample useful and welcoming space for every member of the student body.

Ashton R. Lattimore ’08, a Crimson editorial editor, is an English concentrator in Dunster House.

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