Due to students’ concerns of racism on campus, Kalamazoo College has agreed to establish an Intercultural Center.
“The movement has its roots in the sixties, when black student organizations pushed for a center that caters exclusively to students of color,” said Georgie Booker K’18, a member of Black Lives Matter Kalamazoo Chapter, and one of many who were involved in the fight for the creation of an intercultural center.
Though students wanted a space in the 60’s, they did not receive one. Since then, more movements have occurred, but none shared the success that followed the rallying that occurred last year.
“The events that marked the winter and spring of last year are what revived the movement” said Cassandra Solis K’16, a member of M.E.Ch.A.
“Threats were made to the school,” Solis continued, “particularly in a Google Doc that was used as an agenda for the student government but which was profaned when people posted pictures of dead black boys. Students of color felt completely attacked.”
Responding to racist behavior on campus, members of the intercultural movement took over a Board of Trustees meeting and shared what their demands were, and what their demands had been for a long time.
Members of the movement repeatedly cited the importance of students of color to have their own space.
“There is this whole talk of inclusivity and sense of belonging, and those are very vague concepts when expressed by institutions,” said Mireya GuzmanOrtiz K’17, another member of the movement.
At the end of spring trimester, students learned that the college would move to satisfy the demand for an Intercultural Center. President Eileen Wilson-Oyelaran invited members of the movement, such as Booker and Solis, to see what the center would look like and what it would take to turn this aspiration into a more concrete, physical entity.
“If this place, if this predominantly white institution isn’t catering to [people of color], if they’ve just hit a bottom, then [the intercultural center is] where they can go. It’s close enough for what home can look like for some of us,” Solis said.