As you make your way down to the textbook-pickup area on the first floor of Nicholson Commons, you may notice something a little different about the MOSAIC/Commuter lounge just across the hall, and for good reason. This summer, the formerly shared space was remodeled, reassigned and renamed, transforming into the very first Center for Intercultural Development.
Sam Kwapong, the director of the Office of Multicultural and International Student Services, said this is the first year there is a space on campus solely for MOSAIC (Multicultural Opportunities for Students Actively Involved in the Community).
“The vision behind [the lounge] is to create a space for students where dialogue, community and conversations can happen, centered around diversity,” he says.
According to PLNU’s fall 2018 race/ethnicity breakdown, 50% of PLNU’s students identify as white, while around 46% are considered racially diverse, which has been increasing every year since the last-recorded year of 2010.
MOSAIC seeks to foster an inclusive multicultural community and is made up of on-campus student clubs and organizations that embrace and engage all different backgrounds. Their theme this year is reconciliation, as well as across-campus collaboration. According to Kwapong, this theme is important in understanding that the fight for diversity and equality isn’t only for students of color, but for students in the majority population as well.
“It’s not just black students, Asian Americans, Latin Americans, Hawaiians and international students fighting this battle, but it’s everybody,” Kwapong says. “Our goal this year is to create this atmosphere, this space, where white students can feel like they’re part of the cause.”
This theme of reconciliation is evident in the affiliate MOSAIC clubs as well. Senior nursing major Alexis Emplao, club president of Asian Student Union (ASU), says that while the club is focusing on building more of a community around Asian interest and culture, they don’t require members to be of Asian heritage.
“[Non-Asian students] are always welcome to attend, and I think they can learn something from our events,” Empalo says. “It’s always good to be aware and keep yourself educated, so you know who you are as a person, and that goes for anyone, whether you’re Asian or not.”
Alesia Wright, junior education major and president of Black Student Union (BSU) echoes similar ideas, saying that this year, BSU is focused on building relationships and creating allies. “We always make sure to mention that anyone can come to the club,” she says. “We try to make sure that [non-colored students] know that we want them there, too.”
Kwapong says that this year the goal is for MOSAIC to be more vocal and present on campus, and he sees having a center as a big step.
“This is our home, this is a place where we can welcome people to,” he says. “Now that we have a home, we want to invite you, and we want you to see what we’re doing and see that we’re not all that bad.”