University of Maryland to create 5 new cultural centers for underrepresented students

The hubs mark the latest step in President Darryll J. Pines’s push for diversity and inclusion.

University of Maryland officials announced plans this week to create new hubs for Latinx, Asian Pacific Islander Desi American, Native American and Indigenous, multiracial and biracial, and disabled students. (Amanda Andrade-Rhoades for The Washington Post)
The University of Maryland at College Park will open five new cultural centers for underrepresented students, the campus’s president announced.

Darryll J. Pines assumed the university’s presidency in July 2020 with promises to foster diversity and inclusion on the campus of more than 40,000 students. In the year-plus since, U-Md. officials have opened a newly renovated Muslim prayer space, pledged $40 million to hire and support underrepresented faculty, and, most recently, named a dining hall to honor the state’s Piscataway Conoy Tribe. The school also welcomed a majority-minority freshman class this year.

Pines said during his State of the Campus address Wednesday that students and officials next will create new cultural centers for Latino, Asian Pacific Islander Desi American, Native American and Indigenous, and multiracial and biracial student groups, as well as for students with disabilities.

The announcement of the centers is the culmination of meetings between administrators and “communities that have experienced exclusion and underrepresentation,” Pines, Perillo and Dodge said. Fewer than 1 percent of students at U-Md. are from American Indian, Alaskan Native, Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander backgrounds; 19 percent are Asian; 10 percent identify as Hispanic or Latino; and 5 percent say they are two or more races, federal data show

Officials did not announce an opening date for the cultural centers, which will be housed in Cole Field House, an athletics facility. But Pines, Perillo and Dodge said university leaders and students will begin planning and designing the spaces this month.

“After covid and a year-and-a-half of virtual [learning], we haven’t gotten as much interaction with students, in general, and specifically with students of our own communities,” said Parashar, who is Indian. “The university is a big place,” he noted, and such spaces allow minority students “to embrace your own culture, and you get to talk to people of similar backgrounds as you.”

Research indicates that cultural hubs help minority students better adjust to life in college and develop their identities. Other campuses throughout the country have designated spaces for students based on race, ability, gender, religion and a host of other identities.

“These spaces help students to be successful and thrive by better supporting their acclimation to university life and developing greater cultural awareness, allowing them to feel part of community and know that they matter,” Pines, Perillo and Dodge said.

The creation of these cultural centers, they added, are part of an ongoing effort “to acknowledge the University of Maryland’s role throughout its history in denying access and full participation, and take actions to advance diversity, equity and inclusion.”

2021-11-12T19:19:07+00:00November 12th, 2021|

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