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A photo of Sacramento State’s  Esak´timá Center interior, with a conference table, red couch and Native American art on the wall.

Sacramento State celebrated the opening of the  Esak´timá Center on March 8, establishing a new space on campus to support Native American learners.

Sacramento State/Christian Navarro

For many students, college is a home away from home, supporting their physical and emotional needs through the academic year.

To make campus more inclusive, colleges and universities are investing in new amenities and facilities to help students make the most of their college experiences and support their student success. Inside Higher Ed compiled a short list of new campus facilities designed with students’ identities and passions in mind.

A Note on Funding

Some of the institutions on this list are highly resourced private institutions serving a majority of white learners, while recent reports show that minority-serving institutions have infrastructure needs and delayed repairs to facilities due to underfunding.

Building Belonging, Student Growth

Belonging is a key factor in predicting student retention and completion, particularly in how students feel they belong within and to their institution. To hone the student experience and help learners get connected to the university, Dominican University of California created a Center for the Dominican Experience. The center, which had its groundbreaking in 2022, is a hub for academic and social engagement on campus.

The facility includes student service offices, classrooms, conference rooms, a learning commons, an art gallery and an outdoor learning plaza. The new space also serves as home for the Dominican Experience, a four-factor personal-development program that guides all undergraduate students through coaching, a digital portfolio, community engagement and completion of a signature work. The program aims to ensure all learners have access to high-impact practices and are prepared for their lives after graduation, as well.

Assisting Students With Disabilities

More institutions are investing in physical spaces to help students with disabilities or accessibility concerns to receive help and build community on campus.

The University of California, Los Angeles plans to establish a disability cultural center to both support students with disabilities as they navigate higher education and beyond, as well as to celebrate disabled culture and history, according to The Daily Bruin. Plans have been underway since 2020, with hopes to establish a temporary space soon.

Saint Louis University joins a growing list of universities with a sensory room on campus. The low-light, lavender-scented space is located in the student center to help students with sensory-processing challenges decompress and cope with sensory overload.

Creating Cultural Identity

An October report from NASPA found that one-third of students believe creating culturally specific spaces for racially minoritized students is important in campus racial climate work.

DEI Under Attack

Recent legislation in Utah, Texas and Florida have forced colleges to shutter their offices of diversity, equity and inclusion or rename them. In Texas, the ban expands to multicultural and LBTQ+ resource centers, limiting available spaces for students to connect with their peers and services at the university.

Yale University is building a new cultural space for Middle Eastern and North American (MENA) students, with renovations to be completed over the summer. Previously, MENA students could gather within the Asian American Cultural Center on campus, which will have its own dedicated peer liaisons, assistant director and independent space as of the fall.

Sacramento State celebrated the opening of the Esak´timá Center on March 8 to empower all students but especially those of Native American heritage. The center has meeting and study spaces, allowing learners to decompress, meet with peers of a similar background and maintain cultural ties while they’re off at school.

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