Carnegie Mellon University

Students talking at Center for Student Diversity and Inclusion

October 09, 2017

New Center Brings Together Efforts in Diversity, Inclusion

By Kelly Saavedra

Carnegie Mellon University has opened the Center for Student Diversity and Inclusion, a new hub and catalyst for community-wide engagement.

Located on the lower level of the Cohon University Center across from the University Store, the center has multiple styles of interchangeable meeting spaces and key staff who can connect students to any resource they need.

Jen Gilbride-Brown and Holly Hippensteel are co-leading the center in its inaugural year, working alongside core staff from the Carnegie Mellon Advising Resource Center (CMARC), Graduate Education and Student Affairs.

“This new center brings together in one central location the diversity and inclusion resources we already have in place at Carnegie Mellon, and will allow us to think about those resources in ways that are more efficient and coordinated,” Gilbride-Brown said. “We all have more than one identity. So, in having this central location, we can better support students to be their full selves.” Gilbride-Brown said among the offerings of the center are resources related to race, ethnicity, first in family, men and masculinity, feminism, women, gender expression and LGBTQ.

The center builds on a legacy of serving underrepresented students that was established in 1968 by the Carnegie Mellon Action Program (CMAP). CMAP initially helped to recruit African American students to the university and then expanded its support efforts to Hispanic, Latino and Native American students.

In 2015, and under the name CMARC, it broadened its focus to include students who are the first in their families to attend college.

“The Center for Student Diversity and Inclusion is another evolution of the original organization that was the trailblazer in advancing diversity efforts at Carnegie Mellon University,” said Ty Walton, who was previously assistant director of CMAP and director of CMARC.

Arnelle Etienne, an electrical and computer engineering student, recently stopped by the new center to get to know its staff.

“I always go to advisers for life advice and for school advice,” Etienne said. “The new center is also a nice place to be when you’re not in classes, to come to relax and do our work.”

Alan Hodge, a materials science and biomedical engineering student, said he looks forward to using the center as a place where he can invite a more diverse group of people to some of the organizations that he belongs to, such as Sustainable Earth.

“A lot of people don’t associate sustainability with diversity and inclusion, but I hope we can move our meetings into this space because sustainability can truly benefit from diverse perspectives,” Hodge said.

“We hope that the center will be a space for students to feel connected to one another and to the university,” said Hippensteel, who is interim director and coordinator of the Office of Title IX Initiatives. “It is exciting to be able to bridge relationships and amplify opportunities for collaboration that serve a common goal, which is for all of us to be able to truly experience the benefits of the diverse educational environment that we have — and that we continue to grow — at Carnegie Mellon.”

Gilbride-Brown calls the center an open conversation for the entire CMU community.

“To fully shape this thing, we really want to meaningfully engage faculty, staff, students and alumni,” Gilbride-Brown said. “There are naming opportunities, an advisory board and plenty of mentoring opportunities.”

The center will have a grand opening celebration Oct. 13-15.