EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (AP) — Snuggled under a blanket in the middle of an oversized bean bag chair, University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire sophomore Avery Benson couldn’t have looked much more comfortable in the middle of a campus with nearly 11,000 students.
With only about 1 percent of those students being African-American, offering a space where black students could feel at home was a primary motivation for creating the recently opened Black Cultural Center in Centennial Hall.
Based on early reviews, that mission has been accomplished.
“This space is really awesome,” said Benson, a social work major from Mount Horeb who serves as public relations and social media chairwoman for the Black Student Alliance on campus. “I love it in here. It’s so relaxing.”
Benson recalled her excitement the first time she walked into the room and caught sight of an entire wall filled with a giant photo reproduction of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. delivering his famous “I Have a Dream” speech on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.
“We actually have a place on campus where we can be ourselves, listen to our music and play our games,” Collis McCloud, a senior business management major from Chicago, told the Leader-Telegram .
The new center, expected to be a meeting place for black student organizations as well as an informal gathering spot, was buzzing recently with about a dozen African-American students doing homework, chatting and playing cards.