Meredith Stafford, reporter
The new Intercultural Center (ICC), located in Krannert, is eager to welcome students, but is also in the process of undergoing renovations in order to solidify the space. The room, which was previously Krannert Underground, is home to different events that are centered around student diversity and the open discussion of multiculturalism on campus.
According to Lydia Gordon, assistant director of student activities, the plans for the ICC began during the fall semester of 2020 and student and faculty committees formed early in 2021. Much of the efforts were student-led and under the direction of Chon’tel Washington, the former supervisor. Gordon said that most of the logistical planning involved making the space multi-purpose, in which a variety of events could be held.
“I would say it’s probably been at least a good year in the process of it, but I know that, for some students, I think there’s been a vision for this for many years and it’s finally just coming to fruition,” Gordon said.
The space is still transitioning from being Krannert Underground and underwent numerous facial changes: new paint, new technology, a new wall and new furniture. The ICC will also feature a mural by local artists with heavy student involvement. According to Gordon, there will be multiple focus groups consisting of faculty and students over the coming month to determine the artwork design and students will be invited to assist in the creation of the mural.
“It’s a very Berry way to do something,” Gordon said.
According to Macilah Taylor, the student diversity initiatives (SDI) student coordinator and the chair of solidarity week, the mural will be a way for students across campus to be involved in the making of the ICC.
“There will be a little piece of everyone on campus in this space which I think is symbolic and beautiful in so many ways,” Taylor said.
Taylor hopes that the ICC will offer a way for marginalized students to feel comfortable and safe. She says that, prior to its creation, there was a need for a designated space to wholly honor diverse voices. The ICC will create a place for discourse on subjects such as race and racism, gender and sexuality.
“A common thing that I heard last year from other students of color and other marginalized students was that they weren’t aware that other people who looked like them were here or cared about the same things they cared about were here,” Taylor said.
The purpose of the ICC is to provide a space for students of diverse groups to find community. The ICC is available for student use anytime Krannert is open.
“I felt like we were one of very few that probably didn’t have something dedicated to that kind of use,” Gordon said.
According to student director of SDI, Samantha Warner, the ICC is home to numerous SDI-related events, such as their open house and a series titled, “Social Justice Bites”. The space also houses U.N.I.T.Y. and the Community Conversation series. In December, it will host a holiday celebration for the different winter holidays that Berry students observe.
“We do ask that people who use the space are mindful and respectful of the intent of the space,” Warner said.
Student organizations are able to reserve the space through campus scheduling or communication with SDI, but reservations are not needed for individual student use.
“We do really encourage individual students to spend time there,” Warner said. “We want this to be a space that students use and we want it to be a space that is safe and comfortable and fun.”
According to Taylor, the ICC will benefit the Berry College community.
“I’m really hoping for students to find each other and find a community within this space and find life-long friends or just people they can engage in thoughtful and meaningful conversations with,” Taylor said.