By Jessica Pike, Staff Writer
The Multicultural Student Affairs office has changed their name to Intercultural Student Engagement (ISE), with hopes of representing and advocating for students in their intersectional identities. The new Student Diversity Centers are spaces on campus where people of different ability, class, ethnicity, gender identity, nationality, race, religion, sexual orientation and the intersectionality of these and other identities are welcome. For this upcoming Fall 2018 semester, there is a brand new Student Diversity Center on the Gorham campus located where The Well used to be. The Student Diversity Center in Portland is the combined space of the former Center for Sexualities and Gender Diversity and Multicultural Student Center.
Some students are unhappy with the new center, wanting a more cosy and close-knit group setting. One student, an RA from Upperclass Hall, Savannah Vermette, says “This is a good change, making it so more students can mingle as a group and get to know each other better. I know some students might not like it as much, but it seems to be better for the majority of the students.” The new mission statement of the ISE is, “We are dedicated to building community and empowering students. We serve as a resource for every student to engage in the rich education and growth found through active exchange across cultures and identities. We facilitate the exploration of critical issues around ability, class, ethnicity, gender identity, nationality, race, religion, sexual orientation and the intersectionality of these and other identities. We are committed to building a campus community where all students can fully participate and feel valued, in an educational environment that is inclusive and safe.” One of the reasons the two spaces were combined is to welcome all students and to honor the intersection of our various identities.
The Student Diversity Center on the Portland campus can be found in the Woodbury Campus Center, where it used to be two rooms split into the CSGD and the Multicultural student center, but is now one great room. The center is more open, has more seating for students and for their weekly programs like Chai Chats or student organization meetings. The brand new center on the Gorham campus is located in the Brooks Student Center, right before entering the Dining hall. Anila Karunakar and Sarah Werkman are the Coordinators of Intercultural Student Engagement. Karunakar can be found primarily working out of the Gorham center and Werkman in the Portland center. The administrative specialist, Zorica Andric, can also be found in the Portland campus.
Some of the interculturally focused student organizations within the ISE are Black Organization for Student Success (B.O.S.S), Global Citizenship Club, the Latinx Student Alliance, Native American Student Alliance, Queer Straight Alliance and the USM Students Without Borders Association. The ISE also has a weekly newsletter called The Intersection, that shares the news and upcoming events. Contact them if you are interested!
**This article was updated on 9/13/18 to make changes to incorrect information and quotes**