University Times

The Man Who Brings Culture Together

Back to Article
Back to Article

The Man Who Brings Culture Together

Joshua Mejia

Joshua Mejia

Joshua Mejia

Erron Franklin, Staff Reporter

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






T he University Times is launching a new Culture section in its weekly publication. The aim is to capture the essence of the unique cultural character on the campus of California State University, Los Angeles. In this first issue of the semester and first feature in the Culture section, we thought it would be fitting to seek insight on the campus and its cultural makeup from the man who is at the helm of it all, Frederick Smith, Director of this University’s Cross Cultural Centers (CCC).

The CCC, as it is commonly referred to, is situated on the second floor of the University Student Union and comprised of four student resource centers: Asian Pacific Islander, Chicana/o Latina/o, Pan African and Gender & Sexuality. Since 1997 the CCC’s mission has been “to encourage student learning as well as foster an inclusive campus environment that challenges racism, sexism, heterosexism, and other forms of oppression.”

Since 2006 Smith has been a member of the CCC staff. Rising through the ranks, he was originally hired as a coordinator. He then served two years as assistant director before taking on his current position. His role as director requires him to be a manager handling operations and logistics. Moreover, his intellect and awareness of campus climate, national politics and privilege stood out as the key components that make the CCC’s effectiveness.

In a very candid and insightful interview, Smith enlightened us on campus culture, the centers’ evolution, campus diversity, and his philosophy on leading people.

Q: What has kept you here at the Cross Cultural Centers?

A: The students are dynamic and smart and open and willing to engage in a lot of great conversation and dialogue around social justice. The other thing I love about my job is no two days are ever alike. It’s so fun and unpredictable and that’s the part that makes it exciting to still come to work everyday. I love the fact that we bridge a lot of current events and pop culture and then we can turn into really relevant and current events and programs for the campus. We can show that there is this blend between academic and co-curricular and pop culture but that it all has meaning for all of us.

Q: How has the program evolved over the past 10 years?

A: Our program has evolved as I have grown and evolved. With increased knowledge around social justice, educational leadership, identity, and how universities work, I have evolved in my thinking about the complexities of life at a universities. I am always pushing us [the ccc team] and pushing myself to not live in our past. Not live in where we were or how things use to be but what’s current and what’s relevant and what’s meaningful for today’s students.

Q: How would you describe the culture at Cal State LA?

A: I would describe it as vibrant, it’s exciting and there’s a lot of spirit and there’s a lot of identities. Some identities might get more attention than others. And that is a part of our job at the Cross Cultural Centers is to make sure that everyone has a space to be heard and understood. We really do generally care about student development and service.

Q: What is your opinion on diversity on the campus?

A: We do have a lot of visible representation of a number of communities and identities. We have a lot representation of maybe identities that we can’t see on the surface as it relates to genders, sexulaties and disabilites. I think that numerical representation is important but at the same time I don’t think we can just rely on what are our numbers. I think a diverse community is also looking at it how we relate to each other, how we learn from each other and how are we able teach each other in ways that don’t discount other people.

Q: What’s the best advice that you’ve been given that has helped you in your role as director?

A: Titles and power are so temporary and imagined. It’s like when you hire people for their expertise and personality and what they bring – just let them be themselves. You open up a space for people to be themselves and you’ll get the best results.

Q: What are you looking forward to this fall?

A: We have a lot of great field trips coming up. We are doing some museum trips. We are doing some trips to West Hollywood to look at some art exhibits. We are going to see the film “Dolores” about Dolores Huerta on Sept. 15. We also have a series called Leadership for Social Justice. Its for new students or emerging leaders who want to learn the basics of social justice. It’s a chance for people to develop their skills as social justice warriors, advocates and educators. We also have the women of color conference.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Leave a Comment

If you want a picture to show with your comment, go get a gravatar.




Navigate Left
  • The Man Who Brings Culture Together

    Culture

    One Last Dance

  • The Man Who Brings Culture Together

    Culture

    Building Communities with BSU

  • The Man Who Brings Culture Together

    Culture

    The Endgame Fans Have Been Waiting For

  • The Man Who Brings Culture Together

    Culture

    “Us”: An Instant Psychological Classic

  • Culture

    Woke Black Folk: A One Woman Show

  • Culture

    Coffee and Friends

  • The Man Who Brings Culture Together

    Culture

    BSU Shows Out

  • The Man Who Brings Culture Together

    Culture

    She Kills Opening Night

  • Culture

    An Evening of Culture

  • The Man Who Brings Culture Together

    Culture

    Pixar Sparks New Tales

Navigate Right
The student news site of California State University - Los Angeles