Poughkeepsie, NY — With the Fall 2017 semester well underway at Marist College, the on-campus residents of New Gartland Building B are home to a very new, particular, and significant floor. The top floor (4th) of Building B New Gartland has been labeled as the Multicultural Floor.
“The vision behind creating this floor was to give students a platform to find people that are willing wanting to learn about one other,” said Joanna Martinez. Martinez is a senior at Marist and the RA for the floor. It’s unique in its own because while it is a special interest housing like a honors or science floor, “…it is different in the discussions and programs that are done specifically for the floor,” said Martinez.
There were some administrative hands that played a role in bringing this floor to life. The Housing and Residential departments and the Center for Multicultural Affairs were the main parties. This floor represents, “those who might feel underrepresented and those individuals who might feel represented but want to learn from others…” said Martinez. The Multicultural floor is defined yet not limited to as a community in which the residents celebrate their similarities and respect their differences.
“It’s a place to establish our roots so that we can feel comfortable educating other individuals not only ourselves, but the issues that affect our community,” said Martinez. Every program or activity the residents of the Multicultural floor participate try to incorporate the practice of learning about other people’s beliefs and ideologies without criticizing and with an open mind. “We try to do something themed to each month or for significant dates,” said Martinez. Recently they held a multicultural community ‘Friendsgiving’ in which each house contributed to cook something. This helped the residents bond and build connections as the year progresses.
There is one application process that perspective Marist students must go through to be considered for the floor. It is a mix of the individuals interest with the floor and what they could bring to the community.
Now with the emergence of this new type of floor at Marist comes some uncertainty and questions from the public and fellow Marist students. “Some people don’t agree with the floor all together while some agree with the concept, but not the name and we have those who love it as it is,” said Martinez. They don’t want the floor to be seen as a way for students of color to ostracize themselves from the rest of the student body; however understanding the vision behind the creation of this floor is understanding the occupants first.
“Culture is not solely about race…this is a concept people tend to overlap which is what gets in the way of people understanding the reason for the floors’ presence,” said Martinez. The Multicultural floor residents may lead different lives, all from various backgrounds, however they all share a sense of community that’s building everyday. There are many people who don’t live on the floor that are becoming fond of the Multicultural floor and growing with the people who do live on the 4th floor in Building B.
“We’ve quickly learned so much about one another and through every discussion and program grow closer and close together,” said Martinez.