Six Cultural and Community Centers provide safe, inclusive environments
July 3, 2019
Virginia Tech houses six Cultural and Community Centers that offer safe, inclusive environments where students from underrepresented and traditionally marginalized identities can gather in community and receive support as they navigate university life.
In addition, these centers offer programming and events that raise cultural awareness and help all students develop a greater appreciation for cultural differences.
“In envisioning the community and cultural centers, we recognized the opportunity and responsibility to celebrate and highlight different cultures and communities on campus," said Menah Pratt-Clarke, vice president for Strategic Affairs and Diversity. "The cultural and community centers provide an important foundational experience through which students can acquire essential knowledge and skills that can enhance success in other aspects of life. The Office for Inclusion and Diversity will remain engaged and supportive in assuring that the cultural and community centers are safe, inclusive, respected, and sustainable.”
Virginia Tech engages in this work through shared values, as one of the goals is to connect individuals across identities, backgrounds, and experiences. The institution takes pride in knowing that community creates a sense of belonging for students. The university also encourages students to find their authentic voice to express their needs. Students have the ability to deepen their consciousness by building upon their unique lived experiences. Lastly, the university cultivates support and advocates for marginalized identities and communities, in order for students to gain a deeper understanding of injustices and work toward social change.
The centers are more than physical spaces, they are judgment-free environments where students can be authentically themselves in community with others who share similar identities. The centers also support the work of faculty and staff caucuses at Virginia Tech.
“Colleagues in Student Affairs have long supported and championed the work of the cultural and community centers. As collaborators in their co-creation, we will continue to commit to their thriving,” said Patty Perillo, vice president for Student Affairs.
“We know the centers are of critical importance to underrepresented and underserved communities, and I believe they are essential to the generation and sustenance of a healthy academic environment," Perillo said. "The centers foster cultural, social, and campus comfort, which is necessary to retain our students. The work of diversity, inclusion, and equity, as manifested in the centers, is the responsibility of the entire institution, which we are committed to ensuring now and in the future.”
Virginia Tech recognizes the importance for students to connect with peers and faculty mentors throughout their college years. Such relationships lead to greater support networks and, ultimately, increased academic, personal, and social success. The cultural and community centers bring students together with peers, faculty, staff, and community members to increase their understanding and embrace their roles as members of a diverse community.
Cultural and community centers offer a community kick-off event at the start of each academic year, as well as history and heritage months, and cultural achievement ceremonies in conjunction with commencement.
Virginia Tech acknowledges the concerns raised by its underrepresented and traditionally marginalized students. The university is committed to supporting the cultural and community centers as critical spaces for students and allies. This support is consistent with InclusiveVT, the institutional and individual commitment to Ut Prosim (That I May Serve) in the spirit of community, diversity, and excellence.
History of the centers
Black Cultural Center (BCC)
In 1984, black student leaders from the class of 1985 proposed the establishment of the Black Cultural Center to correlate with the increase in recruitment of black students. The BCC opened in 1991. It was primarily used as a space for student organizations before the first director was hired in 2017. The BCC is located on the first floor in 126 Squires Student Center.
American Indian and Indigenous Community Center (AIICC)
Founded in August 2016, the American Indian and Indigenous Community Center (AIICC) serves as a community gathering area and study space. The AIICC acknowledges the Tutelo and Monacan peoples, who were the traditional custodians of the land, water, and air that Virginia Tech consumes, as well as honors and welcomes all other nations and peoples. The AIICC is located on the first floor in 122 Squires Student Center.
The Asian Cultural Engagement Center (ACEC)
The Asian Cultural Engagement Center is the most recent addition to CCC. While the development of the center is ongoing, with the hiring of an inaugural director underway, it can currently accommodate a maximum of 30 people for coalition building, meetings, programs, and gatherings, while also serving as a study space. The ACEC is located on the first floor in 140 Squires Student Center.
El Centro is the cultural and community center for the LatinX community at Virginia Tech. El Centro works with The Latino Library, initiated by a 2015 Virginia Tech Graduate School Diversity Scholar, and now hosts more than 500 texts in multiple languages for all ages. El Centro is located on the third floor in 309 Squires Student Center.
The LGBTQ+ Resource Center
The LGBTQ+ Resource Center at Virginia Tech was opened on Aug. 15, 2016, with a dedicated area and full-time staff member. Previously, a student-run center was overseen by HokiePRIDE. Recently relocated to a larger location in Squires, the LGBTQ+ Resource Center is located on the second floor in 227 Squires Student Center.
The Intercultural Engagement Center (IEC)
The Intercultural Engagement Center is an important component of Virginia Tech’s efforts to create a welcoming and inclusive campus community. Designed to bring individuals, especially majority students, together to engage across difference in order to deepen understanding, develop the capacity for difficult dialogue, and create community, the IEC is also utilized by the campus community for educational programs and features a rotation of artwork and displays from multiple underrepresented communities. The IEC is located on the first floor in 150 Squires Student Center.