NORMAL, Ill. (WMBD) — The Multicultural Center (MCC) at Illinois State University has seen significant growth since opening its doors in Fall 2021.

“I think what we’re going after in the multicultural center is that everybody would be seen, known and valued,” said Director Dr. Christa Platt.

At the July Board of Trustees meeting, Interim President Aondover Tarhule reported numbers showcasing the center’s participation nearly doubled in its second year. According to Tarhule, for fiscal year 2022 the center had 6,800 entry swipes and for fiscal year 2023 there were more than 11,000 entry swipes.

“I think the fact that the center is new and I think students have spent a lot of time asking for this place and advocating for it. Now that it’s here, we love it, the students love it,” said Platt. “And I will say, I’ve heard so many times that students call this place a refuge for them. It’s really a safe space for them.”

Platt applauds the student organizations for making the center a safe space. The center sponsors TRIBE, an Indigenous student organization, The Association of Latin American Students (ALAS), The Black Student Union (BSU), Pride for the LGBTQ+ Community, and The Asian Pacific American Coalition (APAC). This year the center is introducing Family Matters, a parenting organization.

“Our student organizations, they do an extraordinary job of inviting people into this space, sharing community with them, sharing their traditions of their cultures and their values. I think that keeps people coming back,” said Platt.

Rubén Ramirez-Gomez is the vice president of ALAS. This year will be his first year as a student worker. He said he is excited to meet new people.

“I’m a very people person, I love talking to people. Being in MCO being a part of the MCC I feel like it’s gotten me to come out of my comfort zone, talk to more people, get more in touch with my community,” he said. “Being able to work here just gives me more of that experience. It allows me to grow into new perspectives and walks of life of other students here on campus.”

Ramirez-Gomez said the family aspect makes the MCC a growing success.

“All the workers, they make sure that they know you. They make sure that you know they’re your family. It’s just a great place to be,” he said.