Multicultural Student Services (MSS), as part of the Office of the Dean of Students, aims to promote inclusion and engagement for historically underrepresented students. We enhance the undergraduate experience through co-curricular programs and culturally relevant services that are meant to empower students in their identity, build community, and help a diverse group of students find their individual and collective voices.
Through MSS, we work with students to develop programs offered through the Multicultural Student Center (MSC), LGBTQ Center, LatinX Student Center, and Interfaith Student Center, all located in Newcomb Hall. These important centers of student life have been designed to meet the needs of multicultural students to find community and engage in rich dialogue. The Centers offer meeting and program space for student groups, study space with computers, a comfortable lounge area, and conference rooms. These Centers are open to everyone, regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, ability, ethnic or national origin, sexual orientation or gender identity.
Opened in 2016, the Multicultural Student Center aims to facilitate a student-centered, collaborative space that supports historically underrepresented communities, while cultivating the empowerment of all students. We seek to enhance personal development, build understanding through dialogue of diverse experiences, and equip students with tools to become socially conscious citizen leaders. Through these efforts, the Multicultural Student Center hopes to inspire cultural fluency and the sense of responsibility necessary to ensure the dignity and respect of all individuals.
The MSC was created by students and student leaders who advocated for such a space through the Multicultural Student Center Initiative (MSCI). In the fall of 2014, a group of students from a variety of organizations joined together to create the Multicultural Student Center Initiative, a working group whose aim was to advocate for a multicultural center on Grounds. The Multicultural Student Center Initiative researched peer institutions, developed student needs assessments, and studied the repurposing of the Kaleidoscope Center for Cultural Fluency in order to create a thorough proposal for the Office of the Vice President of Student Affairs.
Less than two years after the creation of the Multicultural Student Center Initiative, and before the proposal was complete, members of the Office of the Dean of Students began looking for spaces within Newcomb Hall for the center. Due to the generosity of the Cavalier Daily, who agreed to move their offices, the future multicultural center found a home in the lower level of Newcomb. In April 2016, the Multicultural Student Center Initiative and the Office of the Dean of Students released a joint statement announcing to the University community the Multicultural Student Center would open that fall.
Throughout the summer, members of the newly-created Multicultural Student Services unit within the Office of the Dean of Students prepared for the fall opening. Finally, after many months of planning, the center opened on Friday, November 4th-- days before the 2016 presidential election.
In the Spring of 2020 we worked to expand our centers and build upon meeting the needs of our growing communities. The MSC moved to Newcomb, Level 2. The LBGTQ Center moved to Newcomb, Level 3, accompanied by the new LatinX Student Center. The Interfaith Student Center is located in Newcomb, Level 4.
The LGBTQ Center supports lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and questioning students, faculty, staff, and alumni. Opened in 2001, with generous financial support from the Serpentine Society, the LGBTQ Center works to raise awareness and inclusion of sexual and gender minorities as important contributors to the broader University community.
Opened in February 2020, the Latinx Student Center (LSC) aims to provide an inclusive environment that supports the intersectional experiences, diverse cultures, and educational goals of Latinx students at the University of Virginia. Student involvement, research, and advocacy over many years led to the creation of the LSC, with significant momentum coming from the Our University to Shape proposal (Fall 2018), Latinx Leadership Institute culminating research project and symposium which advocated for the creation of the LSC (Spring 2019), and advocacy from Student Council to survey and assess University support for members of the Latinx community (Spring 2019).
In May 2019, as part of his strategic plan to increase services and support for multicultural students, President Jim Ryan announced the expansion of the existing Multicultural Student Center and LGBTQ Center, and the creation of the Latinx Student Center and Interfaith Student Center. Throughout the summer and fall of 2019, MSS professional staff worked in partnership with Latinx students to develop the LSC. Every aspect of the center’s operations was primarily student driven, from creating a mission, to developing the programmatic areas of focus, to decisions regarding the use and design of the space. The Latinx Student Center’s programmatic areas of focus are: leadership, Latinx culture and identity, community and belonging, success, and recruitment and alumni engagement.
Opened in February 2020, the Interfaith Student Center (IFSC) aims to provide a welcoming, comfortable, and safe space where students of diverse backgrounds and beliefs can practice their own faith, spirituality and mindfulness and learn about those of others. The IFSC supports interfaith dialogue, education, and relationships while recognizing the many vibrant religious communities on Grounds.
During the 2005-2006 academic school year, UVa allocated Room 105 on the 1st floor of Pavilion VIII as a Silent Meditation Room. Then during the 2012-2013 school year, the location was moved to Newcomb Hall, Room 456, after students within the faith community requested a larger, more central location for the space. Since then, student involvement & advocacy led to the creation of the IFSC, with specific momentum coming from a proposal submitted by the Virginia Interfaith Coalition in April 2019. The new IFSC is a larger space for prayer, meditation, spirituality practice and community building for the interfaith community at UVa.
THE ORIGINAL MULTICULTURAL STUDENT CENTER, WHICH OPENED IN 2016, WAS MADE POSSIBLE BY THE GENEROSITY OF THE UVA PARENTS FUND WHOSE FINANCIAL GIFT PROVIDED THE FURNISHIINGS, TECHNOLOGY, AND CARPET FOR THE CENTER. THE EXPANDED MULTICULTURAL STUDENT CENTER AND LGBTQ CENTER, AS WELL AS THE CREATION OF THE NEW LATINX STUDENT CENTER AND INTERFAITH STUDENT CENTER IN 2020, WERE FUNDED BY THE OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT, JIM RYAN, ALONG WITH ADDITIONAL SUPPORT FROM THE UVA PARENTS FUND. WE ARE ETERNALLY GRATEFUL FOR THEIR SUPPORT.