For decades, the Black Student Union (BSU), along with many other organizations at Kansas State University, aimed to create a welcoming place for people of color on campus without feeling shy about showing off their culture and highlighting their true identities. With countless student reports of not feeling at home at K-State due to harassment, racism or exclusion – it was clear something had to be done. Jim Bob Morris, a former K-State student of Cherokee descent and a founder of the Morris Family Multicultural Student Center (MFMSC), experienced barriers to equality firsthand while at K-State which motivated him to create a space where students like him can feel comfortable on campus.
In previous years, K-State didn’t have a place where all students felt welcomed and included, but with the help of alumni, organizations, corporations and many others, the MFMSC was built in hopes to change that. This $6.4 million project, led mostly by the BSU, helped open one of the only completely fundraised buildings on campus. Before the current BSU president and junior in Social Sciences and Pre-Law Cara Bruce took over, previous leaders held conferences and meetings to discuss the safety of Black students on campus.
“We looked to other schools in the Big XII that have multicultural centers and Black leadership centers and wanted the same experience for Black students at K-State,” said Bruce.
The MFMSC has been in the works for over 50 years, and students at K-State felt a long-awaited sense of relief when its blueprints transformed into a building. With many students not feeling safe on campus, there was a need for a secure place for students of color to feel comfortable being themselves.
“It has the ability to offer a place that creates a sense of belonging, support, and advocacy for students from our marginalized student populations,” said Trumanue Lindsey Jr., Director of Diversity and Multicultural Student Life.
Individual students and organizations, such as the Student Governing Association (SGA), were also advocating for an inclusive space on campus.
MFMSC is now home to many events organized by multicultural organizations like the Hispanic American Leadership Organization (HALO), Latina Unidas Poderosas y Educadas (LUPE), BSU and multicultural sororities and fraternities. President of HALO, junior Natalia Rodriguez, has held meetings there.
“We’ve had our last two meetings there and a study session,” Rodriguez said. “It’s a space where we can either have events surrounded by our community or we can have sessions, guest speakers, if we need to.”
Some students go to MFMSC to finish up homework, others go to hang out with friends or meet new people that share common interests. Although it may appear to be a space for only people of color, anyone and everyone is welcome.
“The target audience, culture and the climate of the space is really to be able to celebrate and highlight multiculturalism, diversity and being able to be a space that continues to advocate and support marginalized student populations,” Lindsey said.
For junior Ivan Bueso, the MFMSC means having an inclusive workspace, where he can get his work done and feel safe.
“This space has brought a sense of appreciation for all the hard work that was done for it to be created and I’m grateful that there’s a space for multicultural students to belong on campus,” Bueso said.
With all of the hard work that was put into opening the MFMSC, it represents the tenacity of the many generations who advocated for it and it’s meant to be enjoyed by students on campus. MFMSC is meant to be a safe space for everyone, where anyone can enjoy the company of friends and not have to worry about what others think – where they can set everything aside and come together as a community.
“I’m just really proud of all the alumni that made this happen,” said Rodriguez. “We owe it to them to make the most out of what we can.”