SPXCE Intercultural Center hosts grand opening event

DuPont to serve as new home for LBGTQ@MIT, Office of Multicultural Programs

The Social Justice Programming and Cross-Cultural Engagement (SPXCE, pronounced ‘space’) Intercultural Center opened Monday in W31-110. Chancellor Cynthia Barnhart and Suzy Nelson, Vice President and Dean for Student Life, kicked off the grand opening event with a ribbon cutting, which was followed by a celebration with students, staff, faculty.

SPXCE is a collaborative initiative between LBGTQ@MIT and the MIT’s Office of Multicultural Programs. It serves as the new home for these two organizations, which were “previously limited in their ability to grow programs for important student communities because of space constraints,” Nelson explained in an email to The Tech.

“When we heard that space might become available in W31, it was clear that we could enhance our support of these offices and the students they serve with simple improvements, like fresh paint, new flooring, and better furniture,” Nelson wrote. Students and staff worked together to make design choices.

“SPXCE works to foster a more inclusive, equitable, and affirming MIT campus climate. It offers a place for students to join a supportive community while discovering and exploring all parts of their identities,” Julio Oyola, Assistant Director of LBGT Services and a staff officer at SPXCE, wrote in an email to The Tech. “Our goal is for the SPXCE to be a home away from home.”

The new center includes a social lounge, study space, and kitchenette.

Oyola explained that several student communities, including the Black Students’ Union, Black Graduate Student Association, undergraduate women, and the LBGTQ community, recommended that an Intercultural Center be built.

Nelson was a “champion for bringing this to fruition with the support of several others and feedback from a group of students,” wrote Oyola.

SPXCE is funded by the DSL.

Andy Lambert ’21, who attended the grand opening on Monday, said in an interview with The Tech that they “really appreciate the effort that was put into opening a space dedicated to education and diversity.” Lambert pointed out that there are now places for LBGTQ students to visit on both the west and east sides of campus — SPXCE and the Rainbow Lounge in Building 50.

Karina Hinojosa ’20, who was involved in the planning and development of SPXCE last year, wrote in an email to The Tech that as the president of the student organization G@MIT (Gay at MIT) and a minority student, she understands that “feeling comfortable and welcome in an academic and social environment is important for mental well being and success.”

“I think the SPXCE is a great place for people in the intersections of identities to feel at home and for those trying to participate actively in these intersections of race, gender, sexuality and ability,” Hinojosa added.  “I love that it's designed as a place for casual discussion of topics relevant to many MIT students as well as a place to help encourage active ideas for the betterment of the MIT community.”