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Celebrate the opening of the Center for Multicultural Excellence and Inclusion

The collaboration will reflect and respond to MSU Denver’s increasingly diverse student body.

By Lindsey Coulter

November 12, 2018

CMEI staffEarlier this semester, the Center for Multicultural Excellence and Inclusion hosted a student welcome event that drew more than 300 students — an impressive feat considering that at that point the CMEI didn’t have a physical space on campus and programming was still in development. Today, however, CMEI Director Cynthia Baron and Assistant Director Juan Gallegos are putting the final touches on a new gathering space on the second floor of the Jordan Student Success Building.

Baron, Gallegos and a team of student leaders have been working diligently over recent months to strategically build the CMEI’s infrastructure and to develop sustainable programming to meet the needs of an increasingly diverse student body. Currently, 44.7 percent of Roadrunners identify as students of color, and that number is expected to grow in the coming years.

“It’s a critical time in terms of culture shift,” Baron said. “We’re thinking about what that changing demographic means not only for CMEI but for the University as a whole.”

For Gallegos, the presence of a dedicated multicultural space is invaluable, and his own undergraduate experience has inspired his passion for developing the CMEI’s programming.

“It was really formative in my undergrad experience to have a space to build community and explore identity,” Gallegos said. “I didn’t have language then to name that I was at a predominantly white institution. ... But I knew what it was to have a space to talk about topics related to that experience — where there is a need for healing spaces and dedicated faculty and staff who were willing to engage with and support students.”

“It’s important that we be thoughtful about the way we’re serving and supporting … students of all races, ethnicities and identities; but it’s really important — especially for students of color — to have that sense of belonging,” Baron added. “Research tells us that that is what impacts academic outcomes and retention and keeps them here and through graduation.”

Two established cohort programs — Brother to Brother and the Salazar Scholars Program — form the foundation of the CMEI’s programming, serving students who identify as men of color and scholarship students who are first-gen and low-income, respectively. The CMEI is in the early phases of designing a Sister Circles program to serve the unique needs of female-identified students of color. A key facet of CMEI programming, however, is collaboration.

In addition to developing new initiatives, Baron and Gallegos are working with campus partners such as the Center for Equity and Student Achievement, the Department of Chicana/o Studies, the Department of Africana Studies and the Gender Institute for Teaching and Advocacy, amplifying the good work already occurring across the campus and identifying gaps in culturally relevant, student-centered programming. However, Baron and Gallegos encourage faculty and staff from all corners of campus and all disciplines to help spread the word and encourage students to engage with the Center.

“Especially as our student demographic continues to diversify, we need to work closely with faculty to provide opportunities for them to engage with students in meaningful ways,” Baron said.

“Although CMEI will take leadership, it’s a campuswide responsibility to make sure that we are being mindful about the way that we’re supporting, serving and teaching our students,” Gallegos added.

To learn how you can get involved and support the CMEI, contact Baron or Gallegos.

Center for Multicultural Excellence and Inclusion Grand Opening

Food, fun activities and giveaways for students

Tuesday, Nov. 13

11 a.m.-2 p.m.

JSSB 237

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