Every student who walks into the Multicultural Center located in the Raymond W. Kelly Commons is guaranteed to be greeted by a big smile from Hayden Greene and one of his brightly patterned bowties.
Opened in 2014, the Multicultural Center’s Director, Hayden Greene has been working to “provide a space for all identities to thrive and share” in accordance with the center’s mission statement.
“It’s a space where there are a lot of opportunities for growth, understanding and for education. It is also really designed to be a fun place. We live in an information age, but there is still stuff out there that people don’t know. It is our job to put it in front so people can make the decision as to whether or not they want to hear it or not, but at the very least they know there is a differing point of view about different things,” Greene said.
The center schedules many events including poetry reading on the last Thursday of the month and Trivia on the last Tuesday. Coffee and Conversations take place every other Tuesday with a topic discussed over some coffee and snacks. Scrabble and other organized games are offered on Fridays.
The center contains the largest chessboard and Scrabble board on campus. The Scrabble board has multicultural word of the day incentive earning students extra points if included in their game. Printed Mandalas, geographic figures from the Buddhist and Hindu religions representing the universe, are available for students to color and de-stress.
Greene also mentioned that a book shelf is being added for students with a variety of multicultural and leadership books.
Not all events take place in the Center. Movie and Dessert or Theatre and Dessert are free events that take students off-campus. Students see a movie or play and then afterward over dessert, discuss themes from the work such as the genders represented in it and how they would resonate on our campus.
Recently, the Manhattan College men’s basketball team participated in a discussion at the Center called “Athletes and Activism.” When discussing this event, Greene said, “We know there’s a trend of athletes taking stands for one thing or another as highlighted by Colin Kaepernick’s protest. We did [this] program to look at it throughout history starting all the way back to Spartacus. It was about really just looking at the way athletes have used their stage, literally and figuratively, to make statements about causes they believe in and then just pulled it all the way up to looking at what they believe to be their role [is] now and how [the athletes] feel about the current state of the protest.”
For students that live on campus, the Center has been working exclusively with Resident Assistants twice a year during their trainings with Green in diversity workshops. During their summer training, a focus on identity exploration is taught and in the winter, microagressions are explained with ways to combat them.
As part of the Center, Greene has created an Events Board, currently with four student coordinators.
Jara Hagler is the student coordinator for the Trivia Time Series and said the Center is so important to Manhattan College, “because of all the different types of people that walk on the quad each day and eat in Lockes and attend class here. Each student has a different story to tell and deserves to have a place to tell it. Every student and every culture should be celebrated and the Multicultural Center is a place where that can happen.”
Hunter Bea is the student coordinator for the Coffee and Conversations event described the Center, “where people of different backgrounds and ethnicities come to express themselves and to talk and really feel comfortable and like themselves there.”
The Center also schedules events for all cultural months including Black History, Latino Month, Women’s History Month, and many others. During these months, opening ceremonies are held with different performances and throughout the month, lectures are held as well as dinners and other food events.
As for the future of the Center, Green is hoping to see the board grow. “Multicultural Affairs want to take a lead role in our Town Hall’s, Teach-In’s and the training that goes on throughout campus. We also want to develop a peer educator group that will actually go out and do some of these workshops for the rest of their peers maybe on RA floors, with student government, athletes and Orientation Leaders. These are students who would be training their peers on multiculturalism and inclusivity. We are also looking to bring people to campus who can talk to the diverse nature of the world and make sure that our students have an opportunity to hear these things.”