In January 1968, the Intergroup Human Relations Center opened on the campus of California State University, Long Beach. This Center made history by being one of the first multicultural institutes ever established in an American university. From its inception African American, Mexican American, Asian Pacific American, and American Indian students came together "to work for racial understanding and to serve as a research center." Under the directorship of the late Dr. Henry Sioux Johnson-Koo (former professor of Asian and Asian American Studies at CSULB) the center helped not only students, but also faculty, administration, and the surrounding community in "developing campus dialogue programs to strengthen interracial relations." For years, the Intergroup Human Relations Center pursued many objectives, "to recruit minority students for college, to provide special counseling, tutoring and help in planning ethnic studies."
Over time, however, CSULB developed many programs which, in large part, took over the mission of the Intergroup Center i.e., individual ethnic and women's studies departments flowered in the late 1960's and early 1970's, with student organizations such as MECHA (Mexicanos Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlan) and the BSU (Black Student Union) setting up their own minority recruitment programs. The University Outreach and School Relations and Educational Equity Services programs then formally established the campuses' university wide commitment to diversity. (a vigorous program that continues to the present day)
Yet, by the late 1980's the campus had seemingly stalled in its progress toward improving race relations. While ethnic diversity was more and more apparent in the student body, it was still represented only in segregated and monocultural terms i.e., Latino events, followed by Black events, followed by Asian events etc., (where no truly cross cultural experiences take place and where the audience is almost exclusively made up of the ethnic group sponsoring the event). Furthermore, this approach to culture was also limited to the most non-threatening aspects of cultural diversity i.e., food, music, clothing, and dance.
Therefore, CSULB decided it was time to renew its commitment fostering interracial understanding on a deeper level (where the hard and uncomfortable issues of racism, and conflicting value orientations are faced.) Thus, the campus formed a President's Task Force on Multicultural Education and Campus Diversity in the summer of 1990. This was followed by the creation of an official Advisory Board charged with the specific task of establishing a new multicultural center. The result of over two years effort by students, faculty, and staff working together have produced the Multicultural Center at California State University, Long Beach. From its inception in Spring 1992 the Center received national attention as "A Model Multicultural Center."
Multiculturalism is, in many ways, a new idea. It calls for an elemental change in the very ethos of the university. A successful program of multiculturalism requires more than a list of well-intentioned goals and objectives. To be fully realized, a clear philosophy must be developed, one that fosters practical implementation on campus.
The philosophy which undergirds all of the Multicultural Center's activities is one of creative cooperation, acceptance, and interdependence. That is, the program objectives and projects of the Center are decidedly not monocultural in focus, i.e., supporting a "Latino" event and then an "Asian American" event, etc., (where no cross cultural experiences take place and where the event is attended only by the ethnic groups sponsoring it). Rather, the MCC seeks events that role model a practice of compassion. This involves the participation of students, faculty, and staff from a broad spectrum of backgrounds. This interdependent and multicultural philosophy is also at the core of all diversity workshops, lectures, and forums undertaken by the Director and staff of the Center.
Our philosophy at the Multicultural Center is to unite and integrate this large pool of talented people into the projects of the Center. Furthermore, we are dedicated to utilizing all categories of staff, university-wide, finding fresh and validating ways for them to participate in the development of our workshops, forums, and special events. Therefore, the Multicultural Center is an educational resource center which serves as a vehicle for the expression of the needs and concerns of CSULB's increasingly diverse campus community.
I pledge to contribute to the creation of our campus as an environment which respects and supports cultural, ethnic, and racial diversity. I affirm my belief in the value and importance of this diversity; and I pledge to foster, communicate, and promote mutual respects and peaceful coexistence among all members of this university community.