On Tuesday evening, more than 60 students, faculty and staff members gathered at The Burrow to explore the new space. The new facility, located at 2026 N. Broad St., will hold programs, workshops and “Owl Talk Tuesdays” for students to ask questions, to have conversations and to learn about diversity, inclusivity and what it means to be diverse in action, not just numbers.
Guests were invited to eat and to answer five questions about their level of comfort discussing issues about diversity, their perspective on multiculturalism and about their own identity. Members of Babel poetry collective performed spoken word. A video was also presented showing coalition members discussing potential challenges.
The Burrow is staffed with 17 student advisory coalition members, who are selected by Director of Student Engagement Carmen Phelps for their dedication and passion for promoting understanding across different identities, cultures and perspectives. They are responsible for conceptualizing, designing, shaping and evaluating programs and acting as external liaisons for The Burrow.
One of the coalition members, junior and human development and community engagement major Sydney Butler, said her objectives for the upcoming year include building bonds and shifting people’s world views.
“I feel like [tonight was] a moment in history to look back on in the future of where this whole entire thing started,” she said. “My goals for the year would be to increase understanding between different cultures and to ask those uncomfortable questions and for people who identify as such to be okay with answering them.”
The creation of The Burrow was in tandem with the creation of the TUnity Statement last year. The statement promotes diversity and acceptance and the new space strives to embody those ideals, Phelps said.
“Tonight was about inspiring people to get excited about multicultural, social justice work on campus,” she said. “ we’re really excited about those ‘Owl Talk Tuesdays,’ because that’s really going to be a litmus test for whether or not we are doing the work that the campus really needs in terms of opening up conversations about these difficult topics.”
The Burrow is open to all students and features gender-neutral restrooms, a kitchen, a family room-style space with a TV and a backyard.
Phelps added that the event “exceeded expectations.”
“I was really excited by the turnout tonight,” she said. “We had representation from lots of different groups and communities on campus, which was phenomenal.”
Temple Student Government was one of the groups represented. Student Body President Ryan Rinaldi said he’s excited to see the space become more utilized throughout the year.
“The Burrow is a beautiful space, physically and for what it stands for as well,” he said. “Dr. Phelps does a great job of promoting inclusivity, and that’s something that’s also near and dear to Temple Student Government – making sure students have a place where they can feel safe to come and have really brave conversations.”
Junior, chemistry major and a member of Esencia Latina Jason Rodriguez said he didn’t expect the event to be so diverse.
“There were a lot of opinions coming from a lot of different areas and I definitely think it’s going to start something big, with people coming from different cultures, different backgrounds coming together to talk about their side of the story, whatever that may be, he said. “I think it’s going to touch a lot of lives.”
Lian Parsons can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @Lian_Parsons.