Wednesday, Feb. 25, 2009 | 9:31 p.m.
Beyond the Sun
More than 150 community members, students and faculty members came out to the Houssels House at UNLV’s campus for the dedication of the new Multicultural Center-Centro Multicultural on Wednesday.
Christine Clark, UNLV vice president for diversity and inclusion, was an early supporter of the center and said the idea came out of protests at a student union dedication in 2008.
“By engaging members of the UNLV and local community in a broad array of multicultural events, activities and programs, the Center-Centro will become a catalyst for creating and sustaining a shift in climate from one of monoculturalism and isolation to one of diversity and inclusion,” she said.
Clark said it was important that that everyone felt accepted at the building, so she encouraged the use of multilingual signs all over campus so it would be easy to find.
Keynote speaker Tony Gladney, Harrah’s Entertainment vice president of national diversity relations, said the new center should be used as a place to learn about other cultures.
“The Multicultural Center means that we have awareness, that we challenge intelligence. It means that we don’t have to agree with each other, but that we have a platform for open dialogue,” he said.
UNLV student Johanna Portillo said she was excited for the new center because she hoped it would bring organizations together and because it was an outlet for students with different backgrounds.
UNLV President David Ashley said it was an important step for the community.
“There was a need within the community to have the kind of facility, the kind of activity, the kind of meeting place where people could exchange ideas that this now represents,” he said. “I think it’s a tremendous addition to the fabric of the campus.”
Ashley said that early in the planning of the facility there were internal contests to help pick institutional priorities and the faculty and staff came up with a research center for race, class and social justice. He said he could foresee great discussions on the patio where the dedication ceremony took place.
Gladney said he was excited to see what students would do with the facility, as he said the college campus is a microscopic view of the surrounding community.
“It is exciting. I’m just really proud and happy for the students at this university because I was able to get that experience and get that knowledge from being in Multicultural Student Affairs as an administrator," Gladney said. "These students are going to be able to get that knowledge from the existence of this very center and that’s a great thing."