With the announcement of the James C. Hormel ’55 and Michael P. Nguyen ’08 Intercultural Center at Sproul Hall, the college has reaffirmed its commitment to fostering discourses on inclusivity, intersectionality, and the celebration of difference on campus. The manifestation of these values in a common physical space is particularly important as we move forward as a community, and it becomes increasingly clear that such a space is necessary. We at the Phoenix applaud the college, President Valerie Smith, and Hormel and Nguyen for making this project possible.
It is one thing to make statements and say that a college is committed to diversity and inclusion efforts. It is laudable; it changes the campus norm, it sparks discussion, and it gets people talking. However, creating a more clearly visible and centrally located space on campus does something completely different. It becomes impossible not to think of the work being done at the IC on a walk to class or to a meeting. The physical space is directly representative of the college’s commitment to this work and to these issues. For taking that step, we at the Phoenix are thankful.
However, the Phoenix also hopes that with this new expansion and renovation, a reframing and rearticulation of the IC’s mission will take place. We hope that the college makes it known that the IC is meant for all students, regardless of a student’s specific affiliation with a group or center. There are students at Swarthmore who may never participate in an IC-sponsored event or enter into the space, and we think this is an unfortunate underutilization. We at the Phoenix strongly believe that engaging with experiences, stories, and perspectives that are different from one’s own are an integral and necessary part of a Swarthmore education. We encourage the IC to keep these facts in mind as they continue their work in anticipation of the remodeling and expansion, and to position themselves to be perceived as an integral part of every student’s educational experience in future generations.
We are excited for the work that is just beginning, and for the successes and triumphs that are on the horizon.