Nov. 27, 2019
Diversity and Equity Center Reintroduces Itself To CWU Community
CWU's Interim VP Admissions and Enrollment Josh Hibbard, left, speaks to DEC student staff members Leilani Salu and Destiny Towery at the DEC open house on Nov. 21.
CWU’s Diversity and Equity Center (DEC) offers a safe, non-judgmental space where students from all walks of life can go to study, socialize, and make new friends.
The DEC, located in Black Hall room 101, has undergone a series of improvements since last spring, but many people on campus are unaware of the center’s transformation. Others may not know about the DEC’s mission, its many resources, or where to find it.
Director Abby Chien said she and her staff are looking forward to introducing more people on campus to everything the center offers.
“We want to remind students that they are welcome to stop by and use the space any time,” she said. “We really want to make the center more inviting for students because, ultimately, we are here for them.”
The upgrades were completed in October and were officially unveiled to students, faculty, and staff, at an open house event November 21.
As part of the redesign, the DEC team brought in bright-colored furniture, removed an interior wall, and created a large event space for student groups to use. The tables double as erasable white boards, while all of the furniture can be reconfigured to meet individual and group needs. There’s also a small kitchen and dining area, plus an array of multimedia capabilities.
Open Monday-Thursday from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Friday from 8-5, the DEC is intended to be an open, welcoming space for underserved and underrepresented groups on campus to gather. Independent study and socializing are equally encouraged.
“You don’t need a reason to come by,” Chien said. “You don’t need to have an appointment or be involved with a specific program. We just want more people to take advantage of our services and physical space.”
Among the CWU students who have discovered the value of the center is senior Destiny Towery, a DEC staff member for the past three years. Towery said the center is a place where everyone feels like they belong.
“The DEC is very close to my heart because it fosters a strong campus community where you can be yourself without fear of what anyone else thinks,” said Towery, a Pasco native. “It represents a place of understanding, and you don’t have to know everything about everybody to feel comfortable here. That has been key for me wanting to stay at CWU.”
Fellow student staff member Leilani Salu said the DEC and the university’s culture of acceptance create a home-away-from-home feeling for many young people on campus.
“I feel like I’ve really gotten to know people here,” said Salu, a first-year transfer student from Texas. “It’s a small community, but it feels more interconnected than other places I’ve lived. You feel like your voice is heard here, and that makes me feel at home.”
Chien and her assistant directors, Verónica Gómez-Vilchis and Katrina Whitney, along with administrative assistant Michele Cook, have been actively working to improve the DEC so more individuals and student groups will want to meet there.
There’s always something happening at the DEC, although the ambiance often depends on the time of day.
“Some people come here to study in the mornings, but it can get pretty social in the afternoons,” Chien said. “We’re also starting to see more student groups meet here, which has been exciting.”
One Equity and Services Council group that regularly gathers at the DEC is the Black Student Union (BSU). Other groups, such as the PolyCentral and Queer Art Collective, have begun using the space more often, Chien said.
“We want to create a vibe of openness,” she said. “We want the DEC to reflect the different identities and communities that help make up this university. But most of all, we want to create a vibrant, inviting environment where our students can thrive.”
Learn more about the DEC and its many workshops and training opportunities at cwu.edu/diversity. Call 963-2127 with questions or to schedule a group meeting time.
Media contact: David Leder, Department of Public Affairs, 509-963-1518, David.Leder@cwu.edu.