Georgia Zutz – Staff Writer
The Center for Inclusive Excellence has always been an integral part of the Gustavus campus, and recently made a new home in what was the former Dive area. The move was a discussion that has taken place over the span of more than a decade and has involved hundreds of Gusties.
“Sometimes I’m in disbelief that we are the generation that gets to see this happen on campus, but it also calls for acknowledgement of the legacy of advocacy that came before us,” Senior and CIE student supervisor Quincy Yangh said. The renovation kept a key focus on retaining the original features and function of the Dive, but also contemporizing and expanding on the potential of the space.
“We kept the original features of the Dive, and took time to make sure everything is accessible to all who use the space,” Senior and CIE student superviser Amanda Braun said.
All members of the Gustavus campus are still able to use and reserve areas of the Center for Inclusive Excellence, including the dancefloor. The CIE will now be in charge of reservations for the space, and encourage Gusties to visit and enjoy the new atmosphere.
Not only has the CIE grown in physical size, it now has a closer relationship with various organizations and resources on campus.
“It is so nice to be in the Johnson Center, as we are close to so many valuable resources on campus. Physically, it’s just in a very convenient location,” shared Braun. The Center is now in close proximity to the Counseling Center, meditation rooms and student organizations such as the Women’s Action Coalition (WAC) and more.
“We are in a bigger space, so it gives us more opportunity to work with professors and other employees who create office hours in the Center. There are also so many organizations and departments on campus that we can create more impactful collaborations with in that space,” Yangh said.
The move and expansion of the CIE also marks an important development regarding the President’s Council for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion initiatives on campus.
“Diversity, equity, inclusion and antiracism work, there is no end to it. This move is just another testament to that. This move has reignited so much energy and inspiration in the Center, it is really incredible to see,” Yangh said.
“This move is a physical representation of the ever-expanding conversation that is occurring on campus. The more we talk about diversity, equity, and inclusion; and the more we do the work, the more people start to feel comfortable approaching these topics. This move will do a lot for people who are still trying to get comfortable and still trying to learn about these ideas,” Braun said.
For students who may have not directly interacted with the Center for Inclusive Excellence before, the expansion brings new opportunities for education and community building on campus, and all are encouraged to visit the Center in its new home.
“Inclusive Excellence includes you! It includes everybody,” Yangh said.
The CIE not only serves as a place to have questions answered about antiracism or equity, but also as a welcoming place for individuals to relax and get to know others.
“Sometimes it’s a place to sit down and simply feel safe. The Center has been a home for so many for so long. This expansion is going to be able to create a comfortable and homey space for so many more,” Braun said.
“This is only the beginning, and vulnerability is what will allow us to grow and benefit from this expansion,” Braun said. No matter who the individual may be, all are welcome in the Center.
“Anytime anybody new enters the space, it is a vulnerable experience for all. Essentially, this is a safe space for anybody to enter. Be brave, challenge the presumptions you hold of others, and keep an open mind. That’s what’s most important, keeping an open mind,” Yangh said.
As Gustavus Adolphus College continues striving to fulfill the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion initiatives in place, the Center for Inclusive Excellence will continue to be a resource and public space for all.
“The end goal is for places like the Center for Inclusive Excellence to not be needed. The end goal is that institutions are rooted in inclusive excellence. We are continually realizing that people are inherently diverse and complex… so we can’t achieve our end goal without these difficult and uncomfortable conversations,” said Braun.
“For the space to be inclusive, you have to be there. We want you there, and we want you to know that you have the right to be there,” Yangh said.