The identity spaces held open houses from Sept. 11 to Sept. 15. Emory will host a grand opening celebration on Oct. 21 during Homecoming weekend, according to Kristina Bethea Odejimi, dean of students and associate vice president for belonging, engagement and community.
“The new identity spaces provide more room for students to learn about different cultures and a place for students to connect across their identities, expanding their personal understanding of themselves, the world around them and making deep connections with those with shared experiences,” Odejimi wrote in an email to the Wheel.
The identity spaces moved from the bottom floor of the Alumni Memorial University Center (AMUC) to the newly-constructed third floor of Cox Hall. They include the Center for Women, Centro Latinx, Emory Black Student Union (EBSU), Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender (LGBT) Life and the Asian Student Center, which was established most recently in 2021.
Emory Pride Secretary Advik Bharadwaj (25C), who is also a leader for the Office of LGBT Life’s queer and Asian community group, said the new identity spaces are much larger. The spaces will also open up rooms for cross-departmental and cross-identity programming, Odejimi added, which Bharadwaj said is convenient for queer community group discussions.
“As a university, we will be able to better embrace the intersectionality of our students’ lived experiences in a physical way,” Odejimi wrote.
Ismael Karim (26C), who is an intern at Centro Latinx, explained that the new location in Cox Hall is easier to find, which makes the identity spaces more accessible to students.
“It also just gives us another opportunity to kind of reimagine the space as we want it,” Karim said. “The space is a reflection of who we are and will allow us to be comfortable, so it’s a great move and I’m excited to see the new space and see how people take advantage of it.”
Karim said students can use the space however they want, such as studying and hosting meetings.
“It’s supposed to be a place where you can kind of just rest, be yourself and kind of just enjoy Latinx people and our culture and our identity in a safe environment,” Karim said.
Jamila Spears (24C), an intern at EBSU, said that the group seeks to increase a sense of community while spreading awareness about events and resources for Black students. She added that it can be hard for students to find a sense of community in college.
“We have a specific space where you always know that you can connect with people from your community and that also where you can feel safe and supportive,” Spears said.
Bharadwaj explained that identity spaces “foster a space of comfort as well as discussion,” which allows people to share their personal experiences.
“Especially because a lot of identities in Cox are for marginalized groups, it’s very helpful to kind of have a space to bond and a space to share with other people that share identities with you,” Bharadwaj said.
Yvonna Smothers (25C) said the Center for Women caters events to “different identities within the woman experience,” including Latinx, Asian and Black women. She noted that she likes that people are coming together to promote intersectionality through the new identity spaces.
“Here at the center, we just want to promote inclusivity and intersectionality,” Smothers said. “That’s really important and it’s a good job that Emory decided to do that.”
Campus Life will return some of its services and resources to the bottom floor of AMUC now that the identity spaces have moved, according to Executive Director of Student Centers Lydia Washington.
“We are working to enhance students’ convenience and access to the resources they use the most while creating more reservable collaboration and programming space for students across both the Student Center and the AMUC,” Washington wrote in an email to the Wheel.
Odejimi noted that the identity spaces are meant to empower Emory students to thrive.
“We are excited to see how students utilize the space to organically create community and participate in program offerings,” Odejimi wrote.