Intercultural Affairs celebrates 10 years as vibrant force for inclusion

After a decade on campus at Western Carolina University, Intercultural Affairs is ready to celebrate.

As well as everyone involved should. “ICA,” as it’s popularly known, is, above all, a celebration of diversity, inclusion and expression. The department has provided, sponsored and hosted numerous events, programs and presentations since its creation in 2010, as well as being a crucial partner for the campus community in building tolerance and encouraging awareness.

ICA events are numerous and held year-round.

“This is a pretty exciting time for us,” said Dana Patterson, director of ICA, who has a doctoral degree in Higher Education Administration from Washington State University and experience in diversity and inclusion training. “To look back on a decade, while looking ahead to the future, is a milestone worth noting.”

A 10th anniversary party will be held Wednesday, Feb. 19, from 2-5 p.m. in the ICA offices in the A.K. Hinds University Center. Light refreshments, conversations and shared memories, plus a video or two and perhaps couple of impromptu drag queen performances are expected.

“This office is like a big living room,” Patterson said. “Students can meet up with friends, hang out and always feel welcome. It’s the sort of space where everyone is invited.”

Dana Patterson

ICA came about as a merger of WCU’s Women’s Center and the Office of Multicultural Affairs, with a mission to help foster a campus environment where students from different backgrounds and cultural groups can feel appreciated, respected and valued. That commitment remains firmly in place, Patterson said.

“ICA plays a really big role in students’ ability to feel grounded, to be accepted and do their best,” she said.

Some of the programs that ICA is instrumental in presenting include WCU’s Pride Week for the LBGTQ community; Martin Luther King Jr. commemorations in honor of the slain civil rights leader, Project Care initiatives to improve academic performance and the retention of underrepresented students; Native American Heritage Month and Black History Month.

For more information, contact ICA at 828-227-2276 or ica@wcu.edu.