In 2016, the UI completed approximately $200,000 in renovations and upgrades in the four cultural and resource centers on campus — the Afro-American Cultural Center (Afro House); the Asian Pacific American Cultural Center (APACC); the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Resource Center (LGBTQRC); and the Latino Native American Cultural Center (LNACC). The work was part a renewed commitment to improve the campus climate for communities served by the Centers.
Renovations were based on feedback from students and staff over time. “Using data we already had, both historical and recent, we approached each constituent group and said, ‘Here is what we have heard over time and recently. Look at this list and tell us what is accurate and what is most important,’” says Bill Nelson, executive director of the Iowa Memorial Union. “We wanted the students and others to know that we have been listening.”
Improvements at each center included basic landscaping, upgraded office equipment and furniture, and new computers and printers. Both the LGBTQRC and APACC were connected to the university’s technology and communication grid.
Other improvements included:
- Afro House received a new oven, microwave, and a picnic table in the back yard. Two walls upstairs were removed to create one large space for group activities, which was refurnished when the renovations were completed.
- LNACC received new paint; a remodeled kitchen with a new refrigerator, stove, and microwave; a new dining room set, air-conditioning units, and roof replacement.
- The LGBTQRC received a new roof and an old fence was removed, along with trees, brush, and weeds. Inside, the center has a new microwave, furniture, lamps, curtains, and paint.
- The APACC received new flooring, paint, living room furniture, and picnic table. Work was also done on the screened-in porch.
Students are pleased with the changes. Yasmin DeAnda says, “The renovations were greatly needed to the cultural centers, and now seeing the centers it definitely gives me a sense of joy and pride... I have seen a great growth in the use of the centers, not just from organizations but all students.”
I have seen a great growth in the use of the centers, not just from organizations but all students
In 2017, multicultural programs in the Center for Student Involvement & Leadership (CSIL) was restructured to include a new leader: Tabitha Wiggins, and the addition of two full-time staff members: Jamal Nelson and Jesus Payan. In addition, the Cultural & LGBTQ Resource Centers student-staffing model has been revamped with additional mentoring opportunities, programming, and events planned.
UI student government leaders, staff from the Center for Student Involvement & Leadership, and others from across campus were strong advocates for the improvements and enhanced staffing model, along with UI President Bruce Harreld and former Vice President of Student Life Tom Rocklin.