New Cultural and Equity Center aims to increase inclusivity on campus Monday, Nov 1 2021 

By Tate Luckey —

On October 22nd, the University of Louisville reopened its new Cultural and Equity Center inside the new Belknap Residence Hall. The upgraded facility features the Cultural Center, LGBT Center, Women’s Center, and various study/multipurpose rooms for students of all backgrounds.

This reopening comes after the University was recognized for the 8th year as a Higher Education Excellence in Diversity award recipient, joining other universities like Clemson and Florida State. “Now that we have a whole building, and there are banners and flags all over it, we’ll get a lot more attention. I think it does help U of L become a more diverse campus,” junior Agustina Cisterna said.

Ashton Beckham, Porter scholar and finance major, felt similarly but thinks that the university can do a bit more. “I do think U of L is diverse, but I wish [the university] put more effort into enrolling black students in honors-level courses,” he said. “[The new space] is definitely better than the space in Strickler.”

The new center provides a more centralized location for the various diversity departments around campus. “It’s a really modern space that offers many helpful resources. Students of color now have easier access to the Parrish LLC, which is very convenient,” Beckham said.

In an interview with U of L News, President Neeli Bendapudi said that the center represents one of many major efforts the university has made in striving to become anti-racist and more inclusive to the entire Cardinal community.

If you’d like to learn more about the space and programs it offers, you can do so here. 

File Photos // Facebook, The Louisville Cardinal 

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Construction of new dorms set to begin May 2020 Friday, Mar 6 2020 

By Victoria Doll–

The University of Louisville will begin new residence hall construction May 2020, using $90 million of state funding. Two new dormitories will be built to replace Miller Hall and Threlkeld Hall.

John Karman, U of L’s director of media relations, stated these dorms have been chosen for replacement because they no longer represent what students want. The university is updating these dorms to better serve the needs of the students.

In May 2020, construction on a new residence hall will begin where the Miller Hall parking lot currently is. The new residence hall is set to open in August 2021, and the existing Miller Hall will be demolished in May 2022. There will be 170 parking spaces lost during the construction.

Gary Becker, U of L’s director of Parking and Transportation Services, commented on the loss of the Miller Hall parking lot.

“The greatest impact to campus will be the loss of visitor parking,” Becker said.

The construction will have minimal effects on faculty and students of U of L. There will also be no new parking added during the construction.

Despite the loss of parking, Becker and his team are excited to see the growth of the university and what new opportunities the construction can bring.

In May 2021, Threlkeld Hall will also be demolished and there will be a new residence hall built at that location. That new residence hall is slated to open August 2022.

Both of the new dorms being built in the next two years will have 450 traditional style dorm rooms.

During the upcoming construction, the Cultural Center will also be torn down and rebuilt to better serve the students.

Veronnie Jones, senior associate vice president for diversity and equity, stated the construction of the new Cultural Center is something she and her team have been looking forward to.

“This is an exciting time for our Diversity and Equity units. This has been a goal for many years, and we are glad to see it finally happening,” she said.

Jones has had members and some students helping with the formation of the project since fall 2019. They are excited about the new opportunities this construction will bring for the Cultural Center.

During construction, the Diversity and Equity Belknap units will be relocated to the first and second floor of Strickler Hall’s wings.

The Cultural Center, the Office of Diversity Education and Inclusive Excellence, the LGBT Center, the Muhammad Ali Institute for Peace and Social Justice and the Women’s Center will be included in the relocation.

Jones and her team view this as a positive change.

“We are already exploring ways to work more collaboratively as a unit and also exploring the effectiveness of our current programs,” she said. “This is a great opportunity to foster great synergy across campus.”

File Photo // The Louisville Cardinal

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Activist group working to right the wrongs of Honduran corruption Sunday, Nov 3 2019 

By Zoe Watkins — 

Heidy Alachán, from the Broad Movement for Dignity and Justice (MADJ), spoke to students at the Shumaker Research Building about the Honduras Resistance Oct. 31. She informed students about the recent crisis from 2008 to present day concerning the corruption of the political party in power.

The University of Louisville Anne Braden Institute for Social Justice Research (ABI), Brandeis Human Rights Advocacy Program, Latin American and Latino Studies and the Cultural Center co-sponsored the event.

“Heidy Alachán has a lot of knowledge of the human rights situation in Honduras which is directly affecting a lot of folks who are coming to Louisville right now directly from Honduras,” said Lizz Perkins, a graduate assistant of ABI.

The regional director of Witness for Peace Southeast Emily Rhyne translated Alachán for the audience since she spoke in her native language. The Witness for Peace Southeast also partnered with MADJ for this event.

A protest sparks a movement.

Alachán began the presentation by explaining how MADJ began in 2008 as a protest. “Four public prosecutors from the public prosecutor office were protesting the corruption in their own agency, so they went on a hunger strike in front of the congressional congress,” Alachán said.

There were cases being ignored about corruption involving directors of the public prosecutor’s office. The hunger strike forced both the attorney general and associate attorney general of the office to resign.

Soon the organization began fighting more than just corruption and impunity. It began defending natural resources, human rights and indigenous reserves in Honduras.

Alachán then began telling the turbulent history of Honduras, working from the present backwards.

A long history of corruption.

She first displayed a news headline explaining that the brother of the Honduras president was convicted in a U.S. federal court for four crimes including drug trafficking.

“The brother of the president, who was also a representative in congress until his arrest, was actually trafficking drugs while serving in congress from 2013 forward,” Alachán said.

Due to the trial, the then president and government were found to be part of the drug trade too.

Alachán explained this trial confirmed that Honduras was a narco state, a state whose economy is dependent on illegal drug trades. The government’s mission was to clear out other cartels so the government-sponsored cartel could have complete control in the country.

“From 2013 and forward, there was a huge emphasis from the new government in power to combat narco trafficking and many narco traffickers were extradited to the United States. But it backfired on them because the very same people who were extradited from Honduras to the U.S. were the key witnesses in this trial that revealed links of the current government in power with narco trafficking,” Alachán said.

Human rights and the increase in militarization were an after-effect of a coup in 2009 Alachán said.

Alachán then went into the long history of government corruption and how the national party gained complete control. They purged the police task force of those who opposed drug trafficking, removed four supreme court justices (where the remaining one became the attorney general later on), intervened in other elections in the government and secured the election of the current president of Honduras through the supreme justices.

“They were preparing the path so that they can legalize the crimes that they were later going to commit,” she stated.

The weakening of institutions has left more than just corruption in the government. Alachán told the audience that many crimes were left un-investigated and social security funds were embezzled to support the national party’s campaign.

However, the most devastating effect was on the country’s health care system.

“They also stole machinery for cancer treatment and other types of treatments. They stole a lot of materials used in treatments, but they also sold false contracts with pharmaceuticals companies where they were selling false medicines. People were not taking their pills to treat their illnesses, they were taking pills made of wheat flour. Because of that, at least 3,000 people died,” Alachán said.

She said laws have been passed for the extraction of natural resources by third party companies too.

“The result of that is that 65 percent of the territory of Honduras is concession with mining concession, hydro-electric concession, photo-voltaic concession and many others,” Alachán explained.

Working against the grain.

With the help of MADJ, the Honduran people have tried combatting against this corruption in an attempt to correct the wrongs made by the government.

“I want people to understand that migration is much more complicated than just talking about gang violence. The situation in Honduras has to do with a deep crisis that has a lot of different elements. It is important to review the role of the United States in the crisis and realizing that the U.S policy provokes the crisis in Honduras,” Alachán said.

Native Honduran and U of L freshman Alexander Ruizreyes still has family there.

“I just found it interesting and insightful since I didn’t really know much about the situation as someone who had to live there during the corruption,” he said.

Senior Jillian Wynn said,“I think often we don’t really adequately cover issues like this because we don’t get to see things from the perspective of somebody who comes from that country, so I thought it was really nice to be told the story by somebody who was actually from Honduras.”

If students would like to get involved in MADJ, Alachán said there are ways for people to get involved in solidarity movements for specific cases and campaigns where students can participate in activities and events on campus. Students can also become distant volunteers where they can help with technical work outside of the country.

Graphic by Shayla Kerr // The Louisville Cardinal

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