Gathering Space: Building Community

“In hard times, it is especially important to create home places: safe places among trusted friends to seek refuge and dress wounds of battle and places for hard conversations, where differences can be aired and strategy mapped, where we can struggle with and affirm one another.” ~Charles R Lawrence III, 2002


Gathering Space: Building Community, a Cultural Resource Centers growth program, aims to recognize the depth and breadth of our work. Our activities extend well beyond creating space for studying or relaxing. We impact all aspects of retention, persistence, and graduation for our students; create meaningful community connections; and foster authentic environments for coalition building.

Middle Eastern/North African/South Asian - MENASA Initiative


The MENASA Initiative started in 2016 when it was included in the CRC Five-Year Strategic Plan. This Initiative formally recognizes MENASA students (learn more about the MENASA region from Student Affarirs Administrators in Higher Education) and their allies who are a critical mass in our spaces yet do not have dedicated services. While our other five cultural centers have demographic data to support their mission, the MENASA community is does not. This presents a unique challenge in supporting these scholars. As is true of our other cultural centers, the MENASA Initiative pivots on race and ethnicity and seeks to:

  • Hire a full time Program Coordinator
  • Provide program funding 
  • Open a MENASA Student Resource Center



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Cultural Resource Centers ask the Student Fee Committee for funding for the MENASA Initiative
Date: Wednesday, October 17th, 2018 from 12:45pm-1:00pm
Location: SMSU 326
Cultural Resource Centers staff and MENASA Initiative leadership requested funds to a full-time MENASA Program Coordinator, a MENASA event budget, and a MENASA Student Programming Team funds for the 2019-2020 school year. We'll hear back soon if we will be granted these funds. 
Additional documents
MENASA End of year celebration
Date: Wednesday, May 23rd, 2018 from 4:00-5:00pm
Location: Pan-African Commons
A space to review the progress of the MENASA Initiative, next steps, and how to get involved.
Additional documents
MENASA Initiative presents to the SMSU Advisory Board
Date: Monday, May 21st, 2018 from 3:00-4:30pm
Location: Pan-African Commons
Members of the MENASA Agency Group and 20 supporters (students and staff) addressed the SMSU Advisory Board to provide an update on the Initiative's progress, present a one-page memo, and prepare the Board to expect a physical space request for a MENASA cultural center in the future.
Additional documents


MENASA Student Testimonies/Focus Groups
Date: Monday, April 30th, 2018 from 12:00-5:00pm
Location: Karl Miller Center (various)
An intimate affinity space open to MENASA identified students to collect testimonies


MENASA Winter Listening Session
Date: Thursday, March 8th, 2018 from 3:00-5:00pm
Location: Pan-African Commons           
Join us as we host our MENASA listening session where we will be talking about our student experiences and what resources we need to succeed. Also, come learn about the MENASA Agency Group. Food, music, and activities will be provided. Everyone is welcome.
Additional documents


MENASA Fall Community Dinner
Date: Monday, November 13th, 2017 from 5:00-6:30pm
Location: Pan-African Commons
Dinner gathering of MENASA student leaders identified to support MENASA Initiative efforts.
Additional documents


Cultural Resource Centers hire a MENASA Student Assistant
Wafa Almaktari is from Yemen and was born and raised in Sana’a. She moved to the US to complete her education. Her current major is Human Resources and Leadership Management, but her journey doesn't end here she is aiming to get master's degree in Public Administration. She is a brave activists that dreams to be an Ambassador someday. Wafa will support the Cultural Resource Centers' efforts to create resources for the MENASA student community at PSU.
Job Description


Note: The MENASA Initiative, like our other cultural centers, pivots on race and ethnicity. It is not a religious/spiritual center. For more information regarding this, please read this report complete by Student Activities & Leadership Programs and International Student Life, exploring the spiritual life of PSU students. 

Pan-African Commons & Pacific Islander, Asian & Asian American Student Center

Pan-African Commons & the Pacific Islander, Asian & Asian American Student Center 


Gathering Space, Building Community Report 
(The PAC & PIAAA Origin Story)
New Cultural Resource Centers: Grand Opening Celebration
Date: Wednesday, November 2nd, 2016 
Location: SMSU Ballroom                                                                                                            
Join us as we celebrate the opening of our two newest Cultural Resource Centers: the Pacific Islander, Asian, and Asian American Student Center and the Pan-African Commons!
Name Reveal of our new centers
Date: Monday, October 17th, 2016
Location: Multicultural Student Center, SMSU 228
(Spring Term 2016 - Timeline for Naming New Centers; Timeline & Voting Information)


Naming Session II: African/African American/Black Student Resource Center 
Date: Wednesday, October 12th, 2016 
Location: SMSU 236                                                                                                    
Be a part of continuing conversations to search and identify the name of the new African, African American, Black Student Resource Center.
Notes from 10/12/16


Naming Session I: African/African American/Black Student Resource Center 
Date: Wednesday, October 5th, 2016 
Location: African, African American, Black Student Resource Center
Join us welcome each   other in the new school year, the new centers, and have initial conversations about the next steps in the naming process for the African, African American, and Black Student Resource Center.
Notes from 10/5/16
New Center Naming Update
Date: Thursday, July 7th, 2016
After the announcement of two new additions to the Cultural Resource Centers (CRC) in December of 2015, the CRC team has been busy taking thoughtful steps towards opening new student resource centers for the Asian American/Asian/Pacific Islander and African American/African/Black communities. We created the Gathering Space: Building Community Program in order to implement this opening of the centers and our ongoing expansion. Students, working with CRC professional staff, crafted a timeline, coordinated outreach strategies, and held visioning sessions (all available below) to help usher in our new spaces with a strong student-centered foundation. One of these pieces included the naming of the new centers, a process that began in April 2016 and culminated in a naming workshop on June 10th, 2016. At that time, two names were chosen: Pan-African Community Student Center and the Heart of Asian American, Asian, and Pacific Islanders Student Center.
The Cultural Resource Centers are dynamic spaces that strive to create a student-centered inclusive environment that enriches the university experience. As such, our staff are committed to listening to the feedback of our stakeholders and make adjustments to our work when necessary. After the names of the centers were announced, concerns were raised. One of those concerns centered on the desire to include more students in the naming process.
To honor our collaborative student-centered approach, we have chosen as a team to revisit the naming process to include the voices of our newly hired professional staff as well as a more robust pool of students and university stakeholders.
In August, our team will be reaching out to the university community to begin these conversations. We look forward to collaborating with you. We will be communicating updates through our website and newsletter. We encourage you to sign up for our newsletter and visit our website for further updates.
We appreciate your support, patience, and grace as we move into this exciting new chapter for the Cultural Resource Centers and thank you for sharing this news with your networks.
Sincerely, Cultural Resource Centers
Naming Session II: Asian/Asian American/Pacific Islander Student Resource Center
Date: Friday, July 1st, 2016
Location: Multicultural Student Center
Join us to discuss the new Cultural Resource Centers for African American, African, and Black students and Asian American, Asian, and Pacific Islander students scheduled to open Fall 2016.
Notes from 7/1/16
New Centers Naming Session 
Date: Friday, June 10th, 2016 
Location: La Casa Latina (LCL)
Join us to discuss the naming of the new Cultural Resource Centers for African American, African, and Black students and Asian American, Asian, and Pacific Islander students scheduled to open Fall 2016.


New Centers Open Forums 
Date: Tuesday, May 3rd, 2016 
Location: Native American Student and Community Center (NASCC)
Join us to discuss the new Cultural Resource Centers for African American, African, and Black students and Asian American, Asian, and Pacific Islander students scheduled to open Fall 2016.

Feedback from the Open Forums on 5/3/2016


Feedback Session with EMPOWER: Asian/Asian American/Pacific Islander Student Center
Date: Thursday, April 7th, 2016
Location: Diversity & Multicultural Student Services, SMSU 425
Students from the EMPOWER Program (support program designed for first-generation, Asian & Pacific Islander identifying students) are invited to share their vision for our upcoing Asian/Asian American/Pacific Islander student resource center. 

Feedback from the Visioning Session on 4/7/2016


Feedback Session: African/African Ameican/Black Student Resource Center
Date: Thursday, February 18th, 2016 
Location: La Casa Latina (SMSU 229)

Come and share your feedback and suggestions on the new cultural resource center for African American, African, and Black Students. Light food and refreshments provided.

Feedback from the Visioning Session on 2/18/2016


Cultural Resource Centers Open Forum
Date: Wednesday, February 10th, 2016
Location: La Casa Latina (SMSU 229)
Join us to discuss the new Cultural Resource Centers for African American, African, and Black students and Asian American, Asian, and Pacific Islander students scheduled to open Fall 2016.
Feedback from the Visioning Session on 2/10/16
Pictures from the Open Forum


The Future Asian/Asian American/Pacific Islander Student Resource Center
Date:Thursday, January 14th, 2016
Location: SMSU 333
Join us to discuss the up and coming development of the newest Cultural Resource Center aimed at supporting Asian/Asian American/Pacific Islander students at Portland State University. This is a great opportunity to share what students want and need on our campus. Come and share your opinion to mold this idea into a concrete facility projected to be built in Fall 2016. Hosted by PSU Kaibigan - Filipino American Student Association. Representatives included PSU Coalition for Asian Pacific American Studies (CAPAS), Vietnamese Student Association (VSA), Cambodian Student Association (CSA), Pacific Islander Club (PIC), API identified students, allies, staff, and faculty.
Feedback from the Visioning Session on 1/14/16


Students of Color Speak Out
On December 1, 2015, Portland State University (PSU) students organized a “Students of Color Speak Out”. At this event, many students shared personal experiences of racial injustices and challenges with inclusive spaces, curriculum content, and campus climate. One result of the Speak Out was University President Wim Wiewel responding to demands set forth by the students. This came in the form of an announcement of the creation of two additional Cultural Resource Centers aimed at serving the African/African American/Black and Asian/Asian American/Pacific Islander student communities to be opened in Fall 2016.
Student Speak Out Memo


Center Locations
The new centers will be located in the Cascade Room: SMSU 236 & 235.
We worked closely with stakeholders across campus to find the best location for the new Asian American, Asian, and Pacific Islander Student Center and African American, African and Black Student Center. Students, community, staff, and faculty agreed that it would be best to house the new centers on the 2nd floor of Smith Memorial Student Union (SMSU) for consistency, to ease way finding, to leverage resources. Stakeholders sought to create a co-located space with the existing La Casa Latina Student Center and the Multicultural Student Center. The spaces underwent a thorough vetting process that included carefully considering impact, usage, and needs. Various scenarios were submitted to the University Space Committee and the final space was approved in mid March. Construction will begin June 2016.



Other Initiatives: Cultural Resource Centers

Other Initiatives from the Cultural Resource Centers

Winter 2018 
In collaboration with campus stakeholders, the Multicultural Student Center celebrated 25 years of service. Learn more by reading our MCC 25th Anniversary Report.
Summer 2017:
Space renovations at the Multicultural Student Center were completed. 
Summer 2016: 
In collaboration with the PSU College of Art + Design, a new mural at the Multicultural Student Center to honor the Student of Color Speak Out, student activism, and student voice was created. Space Renovations for La Casa Latina Student Center were also completed. 
[Student of Color Speak Out, December 1st, 2015]