There are four cultural centers at Oregon State University: the Asian and Pacific Cultural Center, the Lonnie B. Harris Black Cultural Center, the Centro Cultural César Chávez, and the Native American Longhouse. Cultural Centers attract and retain students and faculty by functioning as micro-communities within the larger community. They serve as a place to celebrate, support, comfort, facilitate, and share a broad understanding of all aspects of a diverse range of cultures. The Diversity Development Office was established to supervise these centers and to promote access to cultural, social, academic, and career resources through information sharing and event planning.
The Native American Longhouse, the oldest of the university's cultural centers, was established in 1971 to honor the cultures of those of Native American descent. It moved to its current location, in a converted Quonset hut, a year later; this center was remodeled in 1999. The Longhouse acts as the focal point for most Native American students, but also as a public service center to provide services and hospitality to the university and surrounding communities. It is also used as a teaching area for traditional singing, dancing, storytelling, and ceremony; additionally, every May the center hosts its annual Salmon Bake.
The Lonnie B. Harris Black Cultural Center has its roots in student protests and determination. In 1968, the Black Student Union (BSU) had a membership of approximately 50 students. A year later, on March 5, members of OSU's BSU marched off campus in protest of certain Intercollegiate Athletics Department policies after football player Fred Milton was asked by Coach Dee Andros to shave his beard and mustache. That same year, OSU established the Educational Opportunities Program (EOP) to provide support for non-traditional students; these include students of color, older than average students, students with disabilities, single parents, low-income students, and students who have been rurally isolated. The BSU received funding from Associated Students of Oregon State University Senate, the Alumni Center, and the community to open the BSU Cultural Center on April 26, 1975. In 1981, the center's name was changed to the Lonnie B. Harris Black Cultural Center, after the first director of the EOP. The mission of the Lonnie B. Harris Black Cultural Center is to complement the academic program of studies and enrich the quality of campus life for African and African-American students at Oregon State University.
Established in 1972, the original nine members of the Chicano Cultural Center met weekly in the basement of the Milam building. At the end of 1976, the Chicano Cultural Advisory Committee requested that the university provide housing for the Center. The CCC was first given the house at 2475 Orchard Street and later the small house at 1969 SW “A” Street, which was to become the permanent Chicano Cultural Center. On April 13, 1977, OSU President Dr. Robert MacVicar cut the ribbon to symbolically open the new Center to the public. The center was renamed the Hispanic Cultural Center in mid-1980s, but the final name change came in 1996 to honor Mexican farm worker activist Cesar Chavez. The Centro Cultural César Chávez was established to provide a location and facility for programming various academic, cultural, recreational, and social events related to the Chicano/Latino/Hispanic culture and heritage.
As the newest of the four cultural centers, the Asian Cultural Center was established in 1991 by faculty and staff of OSU who saw a need for a center that would serve as a focal point for the education of the campus and local community about the Asian and Pacific Islander cultures and heritages. In 2003, the name was changed to the Asian and Pacific Cultural Center.
The OSU Pride Center provides programs and support services for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning and intersexed members of the OSU community and their allies. In the fall of 1999, students within the queer and ally social group, Rainbow Continuum, as well the Queer Affairs Task Force that is part of the Associated Students of Oregon State University, identified a need for a safe space with support services for lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, and allied students. During winter and spring terms of 2000 students began looking at other models of support and soon talks began, focusing on designing a community center for students at OSU. In November of 2000, Student Involvement provided funds from their budget and identified a temporary space in the Women’s Center. The center was originally slated to be called the “Queer Cultural Center,” but due to concerns from some students, the name was changed to the “Queer Resource Center.” In May, 2001, the Queer Resource Center received funding in the annual budget. A permanent space for the center was identified on the Southeastern edge of campus; in the winter of 2004, proposal was approved by the Senates. As the Queer Resource Center approached the end of its third year of operation, the Center’s Advisory Board began discussing the possibility of a name change in response to a number of different concerns from staff, faculty, students and community members. From these conversations, the Advisory Board felt the need to find a new name that would be comfortable and welcoming to all members of our community. The name ‘Pride Community Center’ was tentatively chosen and the Board looked to the community for feedback. As the Board reconvened to examine the responses generated by the proposed name (both pro and con), the Advisory Board passed a motion to change the name of the Queer Resource Center to the Pride Center.
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