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Saying goodbye to cultural centers

Cooper Hatsis
Awards won by Weber State’s Women’s Center.

On June 27-28, Weber State University’s cultural centers held their closing receptions from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. The many centers on campus will close their doors on July 1 due to House Bill 261.

The closing receptions held by the different centers invited students, friends and members together to celebrate its accomplishments and time at Weber State. One important aspect of the receptions was the documentation of the cultural centers’ histories. Weber State’s Special Collections and University Archives attended the closing reception to gather historical documents and items brought to the event.

Lorrie Rands, SCUA manuscript processor, was one of the attendees of this recent reception. Rands is looking to conduct oral histories and find first-person accounts of experiences with the cultural centers on campus.

“The centers have made me realize how important they are to make people feel included, having a space to go … and I think we all need to feel that,” Rands said.

Anyone interested in sharing their story and experiences with the cultural centers at Weber State can sign up and arrange a time and place to share their story or donate documents or items to the Stewart Library’s archives. Rands said it is important for students to know that there are still places they can go to feel supported.

The Women’s and LGBTQ+ Centers continued their reception by looking through scrapbooks of the centers’ past, tracing back to the 1980s and a slideshow that showed some of the events the centers have hosted in the past few years. The event brought community members, students and previous staff of the Women’s Center to celebrate their accomplishments.

Jessica Pleyel, the Safe@Weber advocate, stated that despite some of the changes being made to the campus, staff members will still be there to support the students of Weber State.

With the changes made by the recent house bill, the Women’s Center is rebranding to just being Safe@Weber. The Safe@Weber program has always been a part of the Women’s Center, but will now be the center’s identity going forward. Safe@Weber encapsulates Weber’s advocacy program and violence prevention programs. While many of the community events held by the Women’s Center might not be on the table anymore, events such as “Take Back the Night” will still happen through Safe@Weber.

“It is disheartening that women’s narratives are not being highlighted in the way that they have historically,” Pleyel said. “Everyone’s stories are important, but we need to have room for women, people of color and queer individuals.”

While the closing receptions for the various cultural centers were a heavy moment for staff and students, Brandon Flores, the executive director of the Student Success Center, wants the campus and community to stay hopeful.

“Yes, our titles can change, the direction of some of our programming, the naming of our centers can change, but what will not change is how our staff show up for students,” Flores said. “How our staff continue to nurture, provide support and guidance going forward won’t change.”

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Cooper Hatsis
Cooper Hatsis, Culture Assistant Editor

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