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Photograph by Gordon Schmidt

Because a massive construction project wasn’t required to create the Multicultural Student Space — an inclusive environment available to all Richmond students but specifically designed as a place where students of color can “recharge, connect, and engage with one another” — its significance might not be readily apparent. On a campus where there are so many resources, perhaps the best way to consider its necessity is to ponder what didn’t already exist.

“Throughout my tenure, there’s never been a time when there wasn’t some interest in there being a safe haven [for students of color],” said Tina Cade, associate vice president of student development and director of multicultural affairs and disability services.

As a student told Cade, “We need a space where we can just be.”

Developed in response to a November 2018 student petition, “the Space,” as it’s been nicknamed, is located in Whitehurst Hall’s near-dormant game room. It opened at the outset of the current academic year as a pilot, though all indications are that it will be on campus for the long haul. It is collaboratively managed by an executive council of eight students and seven staff members.

“We definitely didn’t go into it blindly, thinking that, ‘Oh, we’re just going to demand this because we can,’” said Anthony Lawrence, ’22 (above, second from right), chair of the student section of the Space’s council.

“We had to think about it methodically and do the research behind why we need this and why it works at other schools to show that it could work at this school as well.”