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The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Tuesday, June 18, 2024
The Red Gym will house two new cultural student centers this fall. 

The Red Gym will house two new cultural student centers this fall. 

Two new cultural student centers to open this fall

Two new cultural student centers will open this fall in the Red Gym, following over a year of student initiative.

A Latinx Cultural Center and an Asian Pacific Islander Desi American Cultural Center (Desi refers to someone who identifies as South Asian or has South Asian heritage) will be available to UW-Madison community members on the North Mezzanine of the Red Gym this fall.

Riley Tsang, a senior at UW-Madison, was inspired to help create an APIDA Cultural Center when he went to the Multicultural Students Center in May of 2017 and there were very few APIDA resources offered.

Experiencing microaggression on campus also contributed to his desire to find a “safe space” for APIDA students.

Incidents of his peers being culturally insensitive and insulting in class or being called racial slurs while out at a bar with friends are examples of why Tsang felt it was necessary to create the APIDA Cultural Center.

“The accumulation of these small incidents invalidates your identity, your culture and your beliefs, which results in creating a really negative experience on campus,” Tsang said.

Tsang fostered a committee of other students who felt there was a need for an APIDA center, and they began making a proposal.

After researching cultural centers at other Big Ten universities, talking with campus community members and analyzing the UW-Madison campus culture survey, the committee took their proposal to Lori Berquam, the former dean of students.

Tsang and members of the APIDA committee were not discouraged when their proposal was initially rejected by the university. They formed a coalition with members of the Latinx, Native American, and African American cultural centers on campus and ultimately negotiated that the mezzanine space in the Red Gym would be used for APIDA and Latinx Cultural Student Centers.

Tsang said he would like to see a better effort put forward by the university to help promote cultural student centers on campus.

“It is very troubling that all of this work is forced to be done by student activists,” Tsang said. “Instead of being proactive with this, our current administration have been reactionary, only doing things when students of color gain media attention. This only adds to the disproportionately negative experience that a lot of students of color face at this university.”

Creating the APIDA and Latinx startup spaces is the first step in supporting students of color at UW-Madison, Tsang said. University funding and creating larger spaces for the centers would be the next step.

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Tsang said he looks forward to the APIDA and Latinx Cultural Centers being open in the Red Gym this fall and hopes he can help make the space feel like home to everyone who visits. 

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