History of Multicultural Centers

Resource spaces for Asian American and Pacific Islander and Hispanic/Latina/o Students

The Hispanic American Resource Center (HARC) was established in the fall of 1992 as a resource center for minority students.  The mission of the HARC was to provide resources and a supportive environment to enhance minority students’ academic and personal development.  The HARC was part of the Minority Student Affairs office and provided students with the following service or resource:

  • A central campus location where students could have small meetings or casual interaction with other students and members of student organizations.
  • A resource center which provided information about and/or for minority students.
  • A resource center for Hispanic-American students with information about student organizations such as the society for Hispanic Professional Engineergs (SHPE), Hispanic American Student Union (HASU), Active Scholars of Puerto Rico (ASPiRa), Mexican American Young Achievers Society (MAYAS), Sigma Lambda Beta (Hispanic fraternity), Sigma Lambda Gamma (Hispanic sorority), National Society of Hispanic MBA’s, and Hispanic American Student Council (HASC)
  • A resource center for Hispanic periodicals and literature as well as information about internships and scholarships.
  • A central location for information about cultural events taking plan on campus, and in and around Ames and the state of Iowa.

The key was available for check-out from the main MSA office in 301 Beardshear during regular business hours.

When the MSA office moved from Beardshear to the Student Services Building, the HARC was moved to a space in Helser Hall and renamed El Centro.  At the same time, a space in Helser was created to serve as a resource center for Asian American and Pacific Islander students the Asian American and Pacific Islander Awareness Coalition. In 2001, the north end of Helser was demolished and El Centro and the APAAC space were relocated.  APAAC was provided a space in Friley which they later decided they no longer had use for.  El Centro was moved to Martin Hall upon its completion in 2004.

In 2019, affinity spaces for Latine, Indigenous, and APIDA students were created in the Memorial Union Multicultural Center. Each space is controlled by the student organizations connected to the group to provide space for students.

The History of the Black Cultural Center

In 1969, the Black Student Organization at Iowa State began planning for a Black Cultural Center to be located near campus and operated by a non-profit organization. The Black Cultural Center, Inc. (BCC) was incorporated on August 18, 1969. A special committee consisting of faculty and students was created to locate a suitable home for the Center. The house at 517 Welch Avenue was purchased for $31,500 and the corporation took possession on January 1, 1970.

Early leadership and financial support came from a variety of places. VEISHEA Inc. and the Government of the Student Body each provided funds towards the purchase of the house. Leadership came from student members of the Black Student Organization and Iowa State faculty and members of the central Iowa community. Some of the earliest supporters included Tom Goodale, Assistant Dean of Students; William Bell, Associate Dean of Students; Neil Harl, professor of economics; John McNee of the ISU Library; and Judge Luther T. Glanton, Jr., of Des Moines.

The purpose of the Black Cultural Center is to provide a place for the Ames and Iowa State community to interact and gain a better understanding of black culture and to act as a home away from home for African American students attending Iowa State University. These purposes were carried out through a variety of social activities, cultural events, and lectures. The BCC was home to a library and the Iowa African-American Hall of Fame.  In the early years of the BCC, it also published the student magazine Uhuru.

In 1996, the Black Cultural Center and Iowa State University entered into an agreement to allow for the financing of needed renovations to the BCC. Under the agreement, Iowa State officially recognized the Black Cultural Center as an organization affiliated with the University. Iowa State also provided funds for the renovation of the house and the ISU Foundation assisted in other fundraising activities.

The Black Cultural Center faced permanent closure when structural damage to the building caused by a burst water main forced officials to close the building in 2003. Students began raising the necessary $86,000 to repair the building and, with help from the ISU Foundation, the Government of the Student Body, and the Ames City Council, were able to reopen the facility in 2007.  Currently, the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs assumes full management of the property.  In 2017, the BCC was renamed the Dr. George A. Jackson Black Cultural Center

  • Black students from the 1970s at the Black Cultural Center

    George A. Jackson Black Cultural Center

    Students at the Black Cultural Center in the 1970s

  • Students from 1980's posed together. Text: Puerto Rico

    Hispanic/Latine Cultural Centers

    Student Members of Puerto Rico for Statehood in 1982.

    Photo Credit: Iowa State Bomb

  • Students of color standing together in a Black and White photo from the early 1990s

    Professional Development Spaces

    Members Multicultural Business Network in the early 1990s