This article appears in the Fall 2021 Edition of Curry Magazine
By Michelle Adams O'Regan
Curry College’s Vision in Action Strategic Plan outlines the development of not only a culture, but a campus that is fully aligned with the College’s mission. This year, several campus spaces were reimagined, representing significant progress in the College’s continuing efforts to support and promote two of its central attributes: diversity, equity and inclusion, and residential student life.
“Fostering an inclusive campus community that attracts, respects, supports and celebrates diversity in multiple forms” is the charge at the heart of Direction 3 of Curry’s Strategic Plan. In recognition of the importance of a physical space dedicated to these values, this fall saw the creation and opening of a Diversity Center in the Student Center.
Formerly occupied by the Center for Career Development (now the Center for Global and Career Services in the Learning Commons) on the second floor of the Student Center, the 1,402 square foot space was renovated to accommodate its new identity over the summer of 2021.
The welcome mat at the Center door says it all: “Everyone is welcome here.” Designed to be a safe space on campus for all, with a specific focus on underrepresented populations, The Diversity Center is a place for Curry students to build an equitable community.
“I am pleased that so many members of the Curry community came together to make The Diversity Center a reality,” says President Kenneth K. Quigley, Jr. “I want to thank everyone who worked on this important project, and I encourage our students to visit, participate and get involved.”
Continuing and capitalizing on the work of the Office of Diversity and Inclusion (ODI), the space was created and furnished with an eye to encouraging respectful conversations and civil discourse supporting a diversity of thought and expression about controversial issues.
“The Diversity Center is essential to the Curry College community,” said Yara DeSousa, former director of diversity and inclusion. “Student development theories as well as related research tell us that students who have a place that reminds them of culture, traditions, and values feel more accepted, safe, and like they belong to the overall college community.
The entire community also benefits, as we have purposely designed spaces and resources for students who want to explore different topics of diversity, equity, inclusion, and social justice. The vision of the Center is to build meaningful relationships, provide mentorship, and promote inclusivity. Our goal is that as a result of the physical space, programming and services from the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, we can see Curry College as a more equitable community.”
The Welcome Area, staffed by Curry students who offer support as needed to all visitors, features colors as warm and hospitable as its name. Colorful messages of encouragement (“I support you.” “Love is love.” “You are enough.”), created by students in October as part of the celebration of National Coming Out Day, hang in the front window. The area precedes a spacious open Lounge furnished with large, comfortable couches and purple bean bag chairs for students to relax, study or engage with each other. Decorative signs proclaim that “all sizes, all colors, all cultures, all sexes, all beliefs, all religions, all ages, all types, all people” are welcome, and colorful flowers adorn the walls. The Lounge is central to the Center, with specialized resource and meeting rooms opening from it.
The PRIDE Resource Room is an open space for students to explore LGBTQIA+ topics and issues. Students can utilize the space to meet with one another or with staff, or to delve into the library of books, images, games, and tools to help educate the Curry community on the LGBTQIA+ community. Rainbow decor representing PRIDE as well as different identity expressions such as trans, bi-sexual, pansexual, and others is thematic throughout.
A collaboration room for Curry affinity clubs and organizations, the meeting space is designed for executive boards and planning teams to come together to share ideas, plan events and programming, and support educational initiatives for the community. A multi-purpose collaboration table and a glass blackboard for sharing encouraging thoughts, tags and more reinforce the space’s purpose: facilitating students working together towards common goals.
The Center opened at the start of the academic year, with a Meet and Greet event for students on September 3, followed by a ribbon cutting and open house to introduce the wider Curry community to the space during Homecoming and Family Weekend in October.
“I would like to acknowledge the expressions of great happiness and hope with the opening of this space and what it will mean to the Curry College community of the past, present, and future. My hope is that this space will be the start of Curry’s progress toward greater inclusion, and there is simply nothing like dedicating a beautiful new space like this to drive that theory home,” said Jeannette Buntin, assistant vice president of student engagement and diversity, at the event.
Follow @currydiversity on Instagram for the latest news and programming from ODI and The Diversity Center.