Open house and open arms

Sharon Valverde Vargas

The Center for Diversity and Unity held its yearly open house on Sept. 25 to share CDU programming and offer help to students, both old and new.

Andrea Hernández, WSU’s Diversity and Inclusive Programs coordinator, said the CDU wants students to come in and be in a space free of judgement.

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Andrea S. Hernandez, Coordinator, gets ready for the Open House Event at the Center For Diversity and Unity. (Robert Lewis / The Signpost)

Hernández said the CDU was established in the early ‘90s by students.

According to Hernández, WSU students in the ‘90s rallied and said, “We want a space where we feel authentically ourselves, a space where we can have difficult conversations around diversity and how we can be more inclusive.”

The CDU helps students navigate college and understand what resources are available to them. Hernández said WSU resources assist students in finding success and helps them navigate social spaces and conversations.

“For underrepresented students especially, these tools are powerful for them, they can carry with them, so they feel empowered to engage in these conversations and help build other allies to have these conversations,” Hernández said.

The CDU’s focus during the open house was to ensure students know about their programming. WSU is home to students of various backgrounds and experiences, and the CDU strives to unite them in a space where there is potential for growth and opportunity.

“If students don’t feel like they belong at this university, their retention is probably not going to be that high,” Hernández said. “Students need to feel like they are an asset.”

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Cristian Gutierrez, College Access Advocate, greets people at the Center For Diversity and Unity Open House event. (Robert Lewis / The Signpost)

Cristian Gutierrez, a WSU college access advisor, provides resources for undocumented students. The CDU wants to promote these resources for students who identify as undocumented, DACA or allies within the community.

Gutierrez was also promoting the Latinx Grad Ceremony, a bilingual graduation ceremony for students who identify as Latinx.

“My father doesn’t understand English well. When he was at my graduation for my associate’s degree, he couldn’t understand anything,” Gutierrez said. “Whereas at the Latinx Ceremony, with it being bilingual, my father walked away feeling like it was a ceremony meant for him.”

Gutierrez feels passionate for what he does because of his upbringing. His parents lived a respectful life as professionals in El Salvador, but they left their motherland to live in America, working in a hotel as a cook and cleaning lady.

“I go home, and I see my parents’ hands. In their hands I see everything they have sacrificed to give me the life I have and the opportunity to study in America,” Gutierrez said. “For me it’s a tribute to them, saying thank you to them.”

The CDU will host their 21st annual Diversity Conference. This year’s topic is Equal Justice Under the Law revolving around stories of race, class, gender and status.