Students attend the Simmons Center's Black History Month event last semester. (Photo Courtesy of the Simmons Multicultural Center).

By Caroline Bryant | Aug. 24, 2022 11:55 a.m.
Features Editor

The Simmons Multicultural Center is home to diversity and inclusion on campus. Wishing to promote these values, the center hosts an annual Welcome Back Barbecue for students and faculty every September. I talked to Assistant Director Kanesha Hicks about the organization and its upcoming event.

First of all, what is the Simmons Multicultural Center? What resources can students obtain from this organization?

“The Evett L. Simmons Center for Multicultural Appreciation provides faculty, staff, and students with programming that promotes multiculturalism, social justice, and emphasizes the importance of inclusion. Our international student population adds to the dynamic of multiple cultures and identities within the FSC Community. By providing educational opportunities through cultural awareness events and sensitivity training, the Simmons Center raises awareness and ultimately creates a unified community that values all cultures.”

How long has Simmons been a part of the school? Why is it important that such an organization is connected to FSC?

“The Simmons Center was named the Life and Cultural Center in the beginning and that started over 20 years ago with Mrs. Brenda Lewis as the Director. It was named the Evett L. Simmons Center for Multicultural Appreciation February 2013, which is almost 10 years ago. Evett L. Simmons is a FSC alum and felt that it was important that underrepresented students have space on campus to call home and the Simmons Center was created.”

When and where is the Blast Off Barbecue? How it is different from the school’s Blast Off on Aug. 24?

“The Welcome Back Barbecue will be held at the Simmons Center on Sept. 2 from 5 – 7:30 p.m. This event is different from Blast Off because it is a smaller version of Blast Off and we are focusing on highlighting all the diversity organizations. This allows for new students who may be overwhelmed at Blast Off to talk with members of the diversity organizations on a more personal level.

Is this the first time this event has been held? If not, has the barbecue been successful in the past?

“The Welcome barbecue event is a long lasting tradition for the Simmons Center that has been around for more than 20 years. The barbecue is always a major success and has been one of our biggest events bringing in over 200 students. This event allows for new and returning students to come together and have fun and enjoy good music, good food and community. This is the first time we are adding the diversity club blast off aspect to the barbecue.”

Who is attending and/or speaking at the barbecue (students, staff, and professors)? Are any other DEI organizations attending as well? If yes, which ones?

“All students, staff and faculty are welcome to attend the barbecue. We don’t have any guest speakers attending. All the DEI organizations will take part in the barbecue as well and have a table on the front lawn of the Simmons Center displaying all information regarding their organization. Those organizations being the Multicultural Student Council, Black Student Union, Hispanic LatinX Student Coalition, Women’s Advocacy Club, Allies, Scientista, Young Adults as Self Advocates, Hillel, and the International Student Association.”

Is there a key message or theme to the barbecue? If yes, what is it?

“The key message for the barbecue is letting students know we are all in this together. We are a community and we are here for each other. The BSU is also incorporating a ‘Family Reunion Theme.’ Their organization has encouraged students, depending on class year, to dress in the fashion trend of specific decades.”

What will students learn at the event? What resources and information will be provided?

“Students will learn that the Simmons Center is a resource for everyone. It is a house on campus that is here for the students to come and talk, study, meet, have events, etc. There will be resources and information for all the DEI organizations as well information for the Simmons Center. Tours of the Simmons Center will be provided for those who would like one.”

Why do you encourage students to attend this event and get involved with the Simmons Center?

“We encourage students to attend the Welcome Back BBQ because it is an event that focuses on coming together and getting to know people that you wouldn’t normally see on campus. It is a great event to start the semester off and make new friends and learn about the DEI orgs that you can get involved with.”

How can interested students get involved with Simmons?

“Students can always stop by the Simmons Center and ask any questions they may have. Vanessa [director] and I are always open to talking and listening to students’ questions or concerns. Getting involved with the Multicultural Student Council is also an easy way to get involved with the Simmons Center as well.”


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