More Central Than Ever, the ICC Celebrates Its Silver Anniversary

The university’s Intercultural Center (ICC) officially opened its doors a quarter century ago, buoyed by a simple yet profound hope.

The 31 enterprising students who in 1992 helped to found the dedicated space in the Swig Student Center wanted “to educate the Brandeis community about the cultures of people of color and to establish a central place on campus for all people to explore, share and honor each other’s cultural heritages,” says Madeleine Lopez, a lecturer in history who is the current ICC director.

At the time of the center’s founding, 11 clubs and organizations representing various cultures and traditions from around the globe were part of the ICC family. Since then, five more organizations have been added.

Lopez is continuing to expand the center’s operations by increasing collaboration with organizations and offices across the campus to host events and activities that promote community and celebrate diversity.

All students “need to learn how to interact with other cultures,” Lopez says. “The Intercultural Center fosters a welcoming community dedicated to the understanding of different cultures and issues of contemporary importance.”

Like many other students, Janice Fernandez ’17 finds the ICC invaluable. A psychology major from the Bronx who stumbled upon the ICC one day during her first year at Brandeis, Fernandez now thinks of the center as a second home. She studies and spends time with friends there. She also serves as a team leader for the ICC’s student staff, helping to organize events.

“At the ICC, you have the chance to be exposed to different perspectives,” Fernandez says. “That’s very important today, in light of societal and political changes.

“This is a space where you can feel safe, and be educated and supported by a community.”

— Julian Cardillo ’14