More than just an office in the basement


The Multicultural Affairs Office exudes diversity.

The center’s programs assist students, build relationships and develop worldwide connections. Because of the wide range of programs, the office lends a hand to about 1,500 students.

The office’s main priority is to provide students of diverse backgrounds with a support system and welcoming environment, said C.D. Douglas, executive director of Multicultural Affairs and the TRiO program.

“We want to make students feel at home and help them transition to SDSU,” Douglas said.

“It’s important because I feel like it gives minority students a place to congregate and a welcoming environment to turn to,” said Wendy Elad, a junior pre-pharmacy student involved with the Black Student Alliance.

Douglas focuses on more than just being the director.  He develops friendships with students through being the advisor for the Black and Latin American Students’ Associations.

“C.D. makes it a point of not just being a mentor, but also a friend,” Elad said.

Multicultural Affairs provides services to the African, Chinese, Indian and Nepalese Students’ Associations, International Relations Council, and Native American Club, according to the Multicultural Affairs page on SDSU’s website.

About 600 students of different ethnicity at SDSU have the option of using the Multicultural Center, though many students choose not to, said Douglas.

Helping minority students is not the only way the office assists the student body.  The office offers disability services to students.

The office provides services to 281 students with documented disabilities, said Nancy Hartenhoff-Crooks, coordinator of disability services. These students have a range of disabilities from learning to medical. Hartenhoff-Crooks said a majority of these students have hidden disabilities, like learning-related disabilities for instance.

Such students are provided services that include scanning and printing documents in larger font for easier reading, making sure classrooms are accessible, recorded lectures and more time for taking exams, Douglas said.

Hartenhoff-Crooks said disability services are available on and off the campus, including all of SDSU’s satellite education centers. The largest number of off-campus students using disability services is located at the University Center in Sioux Falls, she said.

Another program is International Affairs.  Even though it has been a part of Multicultural Affairs for some time, the program will be moved by next summer.

Kathleen Fairfax, assistance vice president of International Affairs and Outreach, said International Affairs will join offices with the Student Study Abroad Program.

“These services are fairly similar and it’s good to have these students working together,” Fairfax said.

The program’s main purpose is to assist international students with immigration requirements and to help students acclimate to SDSU, Fairfax said. The program includes about 250 students this semester who will get advising, orientation and involvement with student organizations.

“We do anything to support our international students, including being a point of referral for other services on campus,” Fairfax said.

Possible locations are being looked into, Fairfax said. Until then, International Affairs will join Study Abroad in a temporary office in Wecota Hall, she said.

After separating, the Multicultural Center have will a five-member staff and will include a program advisor for Multicultural Affairs, both a Disability Services coordinator and program assistant, an executive director of Multicultural Affairs, and a secretary, Douglas said.

“Any student can come down here and utilize the space.  It’s the Multicultural Center, but all students are welcome” Douglas said.