Latinx Culture Center projected to open by spring 2025
Written by: Stella S. Canino-Quiñones 🇵🇷
The William P. Cole, Jr. Student Activities Building on Nov. 10, 2023 (Yessica Mayo)
The Latinx Student Union hosted a general meeting updating the construction of the Latinx Culture Center in the Stamp Student Union.
“This center came through decades of advocacy,” said Alex Mullen, Program Coordinator for Latinx Student Involvement in the Office of Multicultural Involvement & Community Advocacy.
The Latinx Culture Center is part of five new cultural centers that will be located in the renovated Cole Field House. The center’s goal is to create space for minority students on campus and offer a place for events and programs, according to the UMD Division of Student Affairs website.
The other four centers developed are the Asian Pacific Islander Desi American, Native and Indigenous, Disabled and Multiracial.
The Latinx Culture Center is projected to open by spring 2025, said Yvette Lerma Jones, director of diversity, equity and inclusion in the Division of Student Affairs.
Students expressed interest in acquiring furniture such as hammocks, movable chairs, laptops,coffee tables and folding tables in the Oct. 26 meeting. They also expressed their ideas for cultural decorations and storage space for students in the center.
Various students and an alumnus emphasized the importance of creating a space for Latinx commuter students.
“My first two years, especially, I was struggling to find a space on campus between classes where I feel comfortable,” said junior public health science major Michelle Rodriguez.
“I also lived on campus and that was a great experience as well… Finding community back in my day was very hard when you live on campus. It was hard when you were a commuter,” said Claudia Barragan, board member of the UMD Latinx Alumni Network.
“It seems like it’s still hard now,” she said.
A preliminary blueprint of the Latinx Cultural Center furniture layout. Courtesy of Yvette Lerma Jones.
The Latinx Center will be 800 square feet with a small kitchen and seating area. It will also provide a whiteboard and monitor.
All five cultural centers will share a multipurpose room where students and organizations can have a bigger event space. It will also allow students to interact with peers from different cultures.
The renovated Cole Field House will have four entry points to the cultural centers: Field House Drive, the Historic Lobby, Lot Z and to the left of Stamp Student Union.
The corridor to reach the cultural centers will have tables, seats and couches to provide a “bridge-building space,” according to the cultural center presentation.
The demolition process will last nine to 12 months and may begin this winter, said Lerma Jones.
“This project means helping students find their home at UMD when they first get here I know that the spaces aren’t going to be as large as we need them to be initially, but they can be landing space for folks when they first get here to find that community,” she said.
The Division of Student Affairs conducted nine overall design forums, community-specific conversations and three surveys during the 2022-2023 academic year.
They are still accepting feedback from students about the layout and furniture of the center until the beginning of December, said Lerma Jones.
“I’m hoping the cultural centers will help people find all the resources they need,” she said.
Blueprint courtesy of Yvette Lerma Jones.