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The Case For a Multicultural Center

A multicultural center will foster a more inclusive Harvard College and an understanding of students with different backgrounds.

By The Crimson Editorial Board

For decades, students have debated the importance of a multicultural center at Harvard, with strong feelings and advocacy by undergraduates. In light of the Task Force on Diversity and Inclusion’s 2015 report mentioning Harvard’s lack of a multicultural center and the Implementation Committee’s 2017 report suggesting the creation of a “multicultural agora,” the administration’s prolonged inaction is more and more conspicuous. We urge Harvard administrators to acknowledge the need for a multicultural center and to take the initiative in creating such a space for students.

A multicultural center would directly support the ideals of inclusivity on which the College has prided itself. By allowing cultural groups to have a physical space to come together to celebrate their backgrounds while inviting other students to participate, such a location would make it easier for these student groups to hold events that promote inclusivity in a safe and welcoming environment. The construct of such a center will furnish students with an opportunity to decorate and design the location as they please.

These are not mere hypotheticals. The benefits of a multicultural center have been recognized by peer institutions, who continue to support and allocate funds for similar spaces.

Opponents of the establishment of a space cite concerns that it would allow self-segregation which would divide the student body. We believe that this concern is unfounded. As previous advocates of a multicultural center have argued, it would certainly bring benefits for students of color, but also be an important asset to the entire student body. It would permit students who do not belong to affinity groups to learn more about those who have different backgrounds.

Moreover, Harvard has even established one potential model for itself: Hillel thrives as an example of how a cultural space can benefit both the members of that cultural group as well as the entire Harvard community. Hillel has united, not divided, the student body. We call on Harvard to recognize that, rather than promote self-segregation, a multicultural center would foster greater inclusivity and a celebration of all identities.

These advantages have been recognized for years at other schools. Harvard is in a phase of expansion, renovation, and construction with the planned expansion to Allston and the University’s ongoing plan to update the Houses. It is high time for Harvard to demonstrate its commitment to inclusivity by establishing a multicultural center.

This staff editorial solely represents the majority view of The Crimson Editorial Board. It is the product of discussions at regular Editorial Board meetings. In order to ensure the impartiality of our journalism, Crimson editors who choose to opine and vote at these meetings are not involved in the reporting of articles on similar topics.

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