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Purchase College Opens New Multicultural Center, Restores Black Studies

Purchase College President Thomas Schwarz (center) at a ribbon-cutting ceremony with students and faculty, dedicating a new multicultural center at Fort Awesome dormitory.
Purchase College President Thomas Schwarz (center) at a ribbon-cutting ceremony with students and faculty, dedicating a new multicultural center at Fort Awesome dormitory. Photo Credit: Christian Arango

HARRISON, N.Y. - In the wake of Black Lives Matters demonstrations on campus and demands for greater diversity in admissions and faculty hiring, Purchase College opened a multicultural center on Friday for minority student groups.

The new center, on the first floor of the campus dormitory known as Fort Awesome, is a direct result of student protests, Purchase President Thomas Schwarz acknowledged at the ribbon-cutting ceremony.

“We would not be here if not for the fact that students were willing to take the risk and speak out,” Schwarz said. "And I hope we listened.”

The new center is the culmination of action taken last semester by student activist groups and Geovanna Borden, who graduated from Purchase in May and was hired as the school’s first coordinator of diversity programming and initiatives.

“Diversity and inclusion is not a one-step shop,” Borden said. “It’s a constantly evolving process that needs to be examined from all different sides.”

Schwarz also pledged on Friday to continue the college’s efforts to increase diversity while hiring new faculty.

Currently, 85 percent of the faculty is white and eight percent identify themselves as black or Hispanic, according to a draft diversity plan made public late last year.

In addition to opening the multicultural center and creating Borden’s position, the college has agreed to student demands to reinstate the discontinued Global Black Studies minor during the current semester and announced plans to introduce a Black Women Leadership initiative as one of several new programs housed in the facility.

State Sen. George Latimer, a Democrat from Rye, presented the school with a Senate certificate of merit commemorating the center at Friday's ribbon[cutting ceremony. State Assembly Chief of Staff Alex Roithmayr praised the new center, calling it “a great commitment” and “an amazing reflection of community at Purchase.”

Christian Arango is a member of Purchase College's Community Reporting Team.

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