The executive board of the Multicultural Student Solidarity Network (MSSN) has proposed the creation of a multicultural lounge on campus where students from all cultures could gather, study and relax together.

The lounge would be built for multicultural students, by multicultural students, MSSN public relations chair, Joshua Kim, RC '19 said. 

“We, as students of color, need a physical space for ourselves to kind of get away from the somewhat-toxic atmosphere on campus that’s dominated by Greek culture,” Kim said. “Often times we feel left out, and we feel as if there is no space for us on campus.”

The lounge would not be exclusive and any student would be welcome, MSSN treasurer Pjay Togunde, WC '19, said.

The goal of MSSN, a student-led organization, is "to build bridges and break down the walls that are between groups right now,” MSSN co-president Melisa Quiroga-Herrera, WC '18, said. A lounge space would help the group achieve that goal, she said.

The lounge would need to be located in a central building on campus so that students are not discouraged by distance, Quiroga-Herrera said. The executive board members have suggested a space in the Wilton Center or the third floor of the Tyler Haynes Commons.

The multicultural student lounge would be similar to the LGBTQ lounge on the third floor of the Tyler Haynes Commons.

MSSN’s founders originally pursued a social mission because campus culture is Greek-oriented, and they felt minority students lacked weekend plans and outlets for entertainment, Quiroga said.

MSSN has hosted cultural events for students in the past but wants to play a more active role on campus and effect change for minority students on campus, she added.

The idea for a student lounge had been discussed before but it wasn’t until recently that the proposal became a priority, MSSN co-president Michael Johnson, RC '19, said.

“I think what really sparked it is the recent inauguration and the buildup of racial tension,” Johnson said. “I think, because of that, we felt like it was time that we needed to push for this in order to have that space for us.”

Executive board members are currently in an information-gathering phase for the proposal, he said. They are asking students for opinions and feedback and have met with President Ronald Crutcher and other multicultural student leaders.

Despite the proposal’s beginning stage, the group hopes to see the lounge built quickly.

“Even if it were to be built in the next two or three years, that would be amazing to me,” Kim said.

The executive board is considering an option wherein a student could take on the multicultural lounge proposal as a research project for academic credit, Quiroga said.

In the future, MSSN also plans to propose a multicultural entertainment center where students could host gatherings on the weekends that are different from Greek events and SpiderNights, she said.

MSSN will form a committee to work on the study lounge proposal at its next general meeting on Jan. 29 in Tyler Haynes Commons 340.

Contact news writer Ashlee Korlach at ashlee.korlach@richmond.edu. Follow Ashlee on Twitter at @ashtaykor