Center for Intercultural Life finds new home in Richardson

Apoorva Verghese, Intersections Editor

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Carolyn Barber-Pierre stands next to a sign welcoming visitors to the Center for Intercultural Life (Apoorva Verghese)

On March 3, the Carolyn Barber-Pierre Center for Intercultural Life moved from their office in the Lavin-Bernick Center for University Life to their new, permanent space in the Richardson Building. Within the Center for Intercultural Life are the Office of Multicultural Affairs, Religious Life, and the Office of Gender and Sexual Diversity. 

“We’re excited about being in this space and creating a sense of space, where students can find themselves, have the ability to be themselves,” Carolyn Barber-Pierre, assistant vice president of student affairs, for whom the center is named, said.” “They can experience the kind of support and the kind of activities that will help them really thrive.” 

While the center’s office in the LBC basement was about 1,100 square feet, the new space in Richardson has over 3,000 square feet of space, allowing room for far more events and activities than before. Currently, the center includes a lobby area, hangout space, prayer room and kitchen. The staff has plans to eventually set up patio space for outside events.

With the move, the CIL finds itself far closer to other offices that are also dedicated to representing the experiences of marginalized students on campus including the Center of Academic Equity, the Center for Public Service and the School of Professional Advancement. In addition, the center’s move to Richardson provides them with more visibility than they were ever granted in the LBC basement.  

“We’re going to be on the admissions tour for the first time since the tours never come to the basement,” Barber-Pierre said.  “We’re delighted that people can see us front and center.” 

The new center in the Richardson Building provides the office with far more space than was available in the LBC and consequently, even more possibilities. The Center for Intercultural Life has long been dedicated to representing marginalized students on campus, a mission that continues to grow along with the center. 

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A display of various cultural objects at the center (Apoorva Verghese)

“We’re already working with Dr. Anneliese Singh on a number of projects,” Barber-Pierre said. “Several of the staff are on her anti-racist initiative team. We’re serving on a number of other committees as it relates to diversity, inclusion and equity. It’s something we have been really passionate about since our start.”

Since it was founded, the Center for Intercultural Life has been at the epicenter of movements advancing diversity and inclusion on campus. Of course, the focus of everything that the center does has always been the students and their needs. 

“Everything we’ve ever done has been about students asking for these spaces, students protesting, lobbying for things,” Barber-Pierre said. “So us in this space we hope to be able to really engage these issues.” 

More than anything, the center’s new space in Richardson is a safe space for Tulane students to relax, learn and embrace themselves. 

“I’m quite sure that when people come and see it, they’ll be happy and satisfied to see the kind of space we offer. We encourage people to come by,” Barber-Pierre said.