Common Ground, the LGBTQ Lounge, and the Office of Multicultural Affairs (OMA). These resources were created to help foster diversity and inclusion, as the building’s objective is to improve the quality of student life at the university. OMA seeks to celebrate various heritages and develop a sense of community among multicultural students. There are several support groups that are valuable networks for students like Women’s Group, Latino Students Network, Black Alumni Network, and more.
Dr. Tinina Cade, Associate Vice President for Student Development and Director of Multicultural Affairs, is in charge of the Oliver Hill Scholars program, named after Oliver White Hill Sr., a civil rights leader from Richmond best known for his role in Brown v. Board of Education. Hill served as counsel in the United States Supreme Court in the Virginia suit that was combined with others where the decision declaring mandatory racial segregation unconstitutional. During the year, Oliver Hill Scholars participate in engaging and culturally stimulating activities, some of which revolve around the African American community. As well as participating in social justice volunteering and activities, students also discuss issues on campus in relation to current events off campus. We sat down with Dr. Cade to ask her some questions about the programs Tyler Haynes Commons has to offer, and their significance within the community.
Dr. Cade said, “sometimes people think the Office of Multicultural Affairs means the `Office of Black Students,' it’s just not true, it’s whoever walks through the door.” When asked if in her thirty years at the University of Richmond she has seen a positive change at the university, she paused to reflect stating, “sometimes, yes sometimes no. Sometimes we take two steps forward and three steps backwards and sometimes we simply take two steps forward and there’s no backwards.” She ended the conversation with this:
“We have come a good ways since 1987, I’ve seen a lot of positive indicators of that but we could be in 1987 today... But do we have people saying ignorant offensive things to one another, hateful things, hurtful things, yea we do, we still do. Do we have people who choose not to be bystanders but to actively engage themselves and say no, this is wrong? We have that too. We have students of every race who have decided that that act of ignorance of hatred doesn’t speak for them and so they get involved, actively engaged to say, “this is wrong” but we have both.”
While Dr. Cade notes that there has been historically little race and class interaction, echoing the findings of a recent Princeton Review report, the campus community is working on ways to become more inclusive. The proposal to create a multicultural center on campus has been brought up in recent discussions, as well as ways for white students to start coming to more multicultural events to learn and understand other cultures.
Tyler Haynes Commons is a place that tries to foreground student voices by providing an opportunity for activism and progress towards a more diverse and inclusive campus. Tyler Haynes Commons is also a place where many student-run organizations and clubs table to spread awareness about their missions, raise money, and interact with the community.