All Students Are Welcome: Black Student Alliance opens Black Cultural Center at UWEC

Nealy Corcoran, photos by Andrea Paulseth

After more than a year of effort, UW-Eau Claire opened a Black Cultural Center in November inside Centennial Hall. Members of the UW-Eau Claire Black Student Alliance and UWEC Vice Chancellor Tamara Johnson worked together to provide a place for students to relax, study, and embrace their culture – a place where students can go for comfort and support.

It shows the strides we’ve taken as a university and lets us know that even more can be done to promote more diversity and a good sense of positivity.

Jeremiah Crisostomo, a BSA outreach coordinator who is studying criminal justice and integrated communications, describes the space as mainly a gathering spot for members of the BSA. “Throughout campus, we rarely get to see each other unless we have class, or are in an organization or sport together,” Crisostomo said. “It always feels good to be around people that you can relate to and understand, but rarely get the chance to see during the day.”

According to recent statistics from the National Center for Education, approximately 10,904 students attend UW-Eau Claire. White people make up about 88 percent of students, with only 1 percent – about 100 students – identifying as black or African-American. In response to these statistics as well as feedback from students, UWEC has made it a central priority to celebrate diverse populations and to increase recruitment and retention of students and faculty of color and from all other marginalized groups.

The Black Student Alliance is open to all students, regardless of race or ethnicity. Their goal is to create a welcoming environment for all students and to improve the overall experience for African-American students at the university. Members hope to expand their presence at this university so that all students can benefit from being a part of a more diverse college experience.

The group meets on campus every other week to discuss upcoming events, fundraising opportunities, and improving the campus environment. Weekly General Body Meetings are held on Mondays 7:30-9pm, and students typically visit the center around 2-3pm.

“I don’t see it as a ‘Blacks Only’ type room,” Crisostomo said. “I feel that’s what some people see and get discouraged. All students are welcome to visit the center and find out for themselves.” The new center is a place that provides a lot of motivation and good energy for black students on campus, he explained. “It shows the strides we’ve taken as a university and lets us know that even more can be done to promote more diversity and a good sense of positivity.”

For more information about the BSA and the new Black Cultural Center contact list.blackstudentalliance@uwec.edu or visit facebook.com/uwecbsa.

Developing Diversity is sponsored by:

Chippewa Valley
Technical College

620 W. Clairemont Ave
Eau Claire, WI