Salisbury University’s Blackwell Hall and Office of Diversity and Inclusion look a little different this semester.
Chief Diversity Officer Joan Williams’ plans for her office include completing refreshments to Blackwell Hall with new artwork and furniture, hosting cultural events and taking other actions to ensure all students and staff feel seen, heard and included on campus.
Blackwell Hall’s latest building renovations featured new cultural artwork and furniture, as well as added rooms and spaces for activities.
The inclusive artwork displayed in Blackwell Hall is intended to represent the diversity of the student body, Williams said. There is a piece depicting the women's rights activist Malala, a mural by a campus employee of “diversity” and an art exhibit by a University of Maryland-Eastern Shore professor.
The new furniture includes chairs with Universal Serial Bus ports for students to use.
The rooms within the Office of Diversity and Inclusion include meeting rooms for several organizations, such as the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Queer+ Alliance and the American Sign Language Club, and a student café with free coffee and tea where students are encouraged to connect over coffee.
There is also an interfaith and meditation room open to all students that includes prayer mats, magazines on how to meditate, a doorknob sign for privacy and bookshelves for different faiths. Across from the meditation space is a bathroom that includes a wash station for hands and feet that can be used by students of different faiths.
Eric Berkheimer, associate vice president of facilities and capital management, said there have been lots of changes since the building was originally renovated from Blackwell Library four years ago into Blackwell Hall.
“[Blackwell Hall has] grown out of necessity, but we are very lucky to have a building we can take and dedicate,” Berkheimer said.
All these changes to Blackwell Hall had students and staff in mind, Berkheimer said.
The plans for the future of the building include further renovation and expansion in the space. Student counseling services will be moved into Blackwell Hall, along with the Cashier’s Office, Office of Financial Aid, Parking Services, Career Services and other departments. Flags will also soon be hung outside the building to represent different identities.
The goal is to make Blackwell Hall a convenient “one-stop shop” for students and staff, Berkheimer said.
With the renovations in place, the office’s focus has shifted to cultural events. Hispanic Heritage Month kicked off the office’s upcoming slate of events on Sept. 17 with the first annual Culture Fest, with free cultural food and shirts, a mariachi band and prizes for attendees.
A multicultural employee meet-and-greet will also be held in the coming weeks, along with a Deaf Awareness Month town hall on Sept. 30 and an open house within the next month.
By JULIE MACE
Featured image courtesy of George Southworth.