MU Tour Team announced Oct. 2 they will now include the basement of the Student Center on their tour routes, according to a statement posted on Mizzou Transparency’s website. Tour guides started taking prospective freshmen through the basement to showcase MU’s student resource centers that same day.
The offices housed in the Student Center include social justice centers such as the Multicultural Center, the Women’s Center, the LGBTQ Resource Center and the Relationship and Sexual Violence Prevention Center, as well as the Wellness Resource Center, the Office of Student Conduct and the office of New Student Programs.
“The fact that they have chosen to come by the different centers and our center as well — that is something that (the center) supports,” LGBTQ Resource Center Coordinator Sean Olmstead said. “Mainly because when you think about if there’s a perspective student who is potentially not out to their parents, that would be the way that they could essentially find out that our space exists.”
Tours previously did not go through the basement. Last fall, the Missouri Students Association Senate passed Resolution 54-08, which was written by then-Campus and Community Relations Committee Chairman Chad Phillips and MSA Senator Polly Haun, which encouraged Tour Team to include the Student Center basement on their tour route.
The resolution was controversial; some members of MSA didn’t think it was an achievable goal, according to previous Maneater reporting. However, social justice organization leaders in the Student Center on Oct. 2 believed the new route was necessary.
"It think it's backwards that so much time, money and effort is put into outreach and recruitment of marginalized students, but once they arrive on campus, there is so little that is done to foster a safe environment for them,” said Deja Mackey, vice president of Stronger Together Against Relationship and Sexual Violence, in an email. “By bringing tours down to the lower lounge of the Student Center, we are showing prospective students that there are spaces for them to connect with people who share similar experiences. We are actively showing students that these spaces are a part of what makes Mizzou ‘home’ for so many. As someone who considers many of the centers in the lower lounge home, it's misguided and not true to our brand to not highlight these spaces to students when we are trying to sell them on our university."
Senior Andrew Pham, external vice president of the Asian American Association, said the new tour route allows incoming students to see the resources they will be offered at MU.
“If you’re a member of that community who would greatly benefit from these resources, but just didn’t know about it all because they were never taken down here, they now have that opportunity to learn about what we are and learn about what Mizzou has to offer,” he said.
Pham explained that all MU students pay a diversity fee that goes toward funding the social justice centers.
“(Students) pay for the Rec, and they definitely tour the Rec — it’s won many awards and it’s a really great place, but it’s something that they’re shown because they pay for it as well,” Pham said. “So I think it’s really good that they’re shown these resources, such as the Multicultural Center, because it’s something that they have paid for.”
Tour Team could not be reached at the time of publication.