The University of Wisconsin announced Wednesday the opening this fall of two new cultural centers — the Latinx Cultural Center and the Asian Pacific Islander Desi American Cultural Center — to be housed in the Red Gym.

With the creation of the Latinx Cultural Center and the APIDA Cultural Center, the university now houses a total of four cultural centers on campus. The Black Cultural Center, opened last spring, operates out of the Red Gym, and the American Indian Student and Cultural Center operates out of a house on North Brooks Street.

Both of the startups will be supported by the Multicultural Student Center, which is also housed in the Red Gym.

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The push for the new cultural centers began when UW senior Riley Tsang and recent graduate Shannon Thao began lobbying for an APIDA Cultural Center more than a year ago, a UW press release said.

“The ability to find a group of people to call family is an important survival mechanism for students of color on campus,” Tsang said. “Cultural centers provide the structure and the resources to find that family.”

Meanwhile, four Latinx students — including Alondra Avitia, Josue Velazquez, Jonathan Godinez and Michelle Navarro — connected during a social justice retreat and began discussing Latinx issues.

Already aware of the work being done to create an APIDA Cultural Center, the two groups collaborated and successfully pitched their proposals to a group of university officials.

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Avitia, one of the UW students who helped propose the Latinx Cultural Center, remembered touring UW as a high school freshman and looking for signs she would fit in as a Latina on a predominantly white campus.

“I want all high school students to feel that if they come here, they belong here,” Avitia said. “You want to feel that sense of belonging the minute you set foot on a campus.”

Plans to redesign the space are scheduled to begin in January, but students are planning on using the spaces for cultural events in just a few weeks. Students hope to hold events in the new space for National Hispanic Heritage Month, which begins on Sept. 15th.

Navarro said the space isn’t a finished product and that he has many ideas for continued growth. She hopes to prove the cultural center deserves a larger space and funding for a professional staff.