The newly renovated Frederick Douglass Building was officially dedicated as the Burgett Intercultural Center last Friday.
The Intercultural Center—which before had been housed in an office on the fifth floor of Wilson Commons—now shares a space with the newly-founded Language Center, although each serves a unique function on campus.
“The Burgett Intercultural Center exists to support students in the different ways that they self-identify,” said Jessica Guzman-Rea, Director of the Intercultural Center. “Whether it be race, nationality, or orientation—it functions as a safe space for students to congregate.”
The Center plans on using its new space to host various events and signature programs, such as the One Community Dialogue Series, which creates an open environment for students to have conversations about sensitive topics. The Intercultural Center has also partnered with the Ghandi Institute and the Interfaith Chapel to promote conversations on race and interfaith aspects of multi-cultural interaction.
“Unfortunately there are times where there are critical things happening in the nation, and sometimes people want a place to congregate and come together,” Guzman-Rea said. “So, similar to the TV in ITS, we’re hoping this space can be that too.”
The Language Center, on the other hand, was established based upon feedback from student and faculty seeking to create a unified language space to encourage multi-lingual verbal exchanges both inside and outside of the classroom.
Prior to its establishment, the 18 languages offered on campus were distributed throughout different departments, making it difficult for cross-language interaction.
“As a Senior who’s been with the Modern Languages Department at the University of Rochester for four years, it makes me want to cry when I see the large amount of effort and dedication that has gone into promoting language education at Rochester,” senior Robert Parent said.
The new Language Center houses high-tech classrooms that facilitate language immersion. It also boasts a computer lab with keyboards for every alphabet, a video game station where students can play games in the language of their choice, a community kitchen for both classes and student organizations to use, voice recorders, video cameras, iPads, international TV stations, and a program that will allow students to study any language for credit, regardless whether the University offers it.
“I think it’s great that people who don’t know another language can come here and learn one,” senior Andrew Tarbox said. “This is not only a great place to talk to other students, but a great place for technology to be used to keep up with a language.”
Though classroom priority will be given to language courses, student groups have the capability of reserving rooms exactly the same way they do in Wilson Commons. The Frederick Douglass Building will follow Wilson Commons’ hours of operation.