The campus activism of the late ’60s and ’70s would take on many fronts in the ensuing decades—from increasing diversity and ethnic representation on campus—to reactions to national events and global human rights causes like apartheid. Running through the discourse on these matters was an impassioned call for a physical space on campus to foster community for underrepresented students. This call became loudest after particular events of the ’90s: In May 1992, over 500 students halted southbound traffic on I-5 to protest the acquittal of Los Angeles police officers in the Rodney King case. Two years later, the iconic murals of the Che Café were defaced with a swastika as well as anti-gay slogans and hate speech.
“This is why we need a cross-cultural center,” said newly elected Associated Student President Poncho Guevara ’95 at a conference held to discuss the vandalism. “It would not be a center just for students of color. It would also be a center to help people understand that this kind of thing should not be allowed at an institution of higher education like UCSD.”
1995 saw the inception of the Cross-Cultural Center, or “The Cross,” UC San Diego’s first space dedicated to work in equity, inclusion and diversity. “We envisioned the Cross as being the space where individuals would become activists, would mobilize campaigns and protests to continue to create change and make the campus a more vibrant and just place for all,” wrote former Cross-Cultural Center Assistant Director Juan Carlos Astorga ’95 in the center’s 20-year retrospective.
Today, the Cross-Cultural Center has the unique distinction among the six campus community centers as the only one that does not serve a specific ethnic population. Edwina Welch, DEd ’09, who has been director from the start, is often asked the question: “Who does the Cross-Cultural Center serve?”
The center is designed to be a place for all students, faculty and staff, especially underrepresented and underserved, to embrace their culture and identity while discovering shared histories and struggles. Welch believes these spaces serve as a crucial nexus for learning and growing, as well as a place to call home.
“What I have gathered is that people are hungry for places of exploration around equity, diversity and inclusion issues—they want to ask questions and learn,” says Welch. “Our goal is to find the intersection, and work together to become more powerful as a community.”
Learn more at ccc.ucsd.edu.