Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Crossroads seeks to reach out across cultures

When Crossroads Community Center first started in fall 2006, it was a small office to help student organizations with multicultural issues.

That start grew into offices, which led to more programs and initiatives and opportunities to engage students.

Nearly four years later, Beverly Hawk, director of Crossroads, said the program is off to a great start.

“We really are just a crossroads, so when people from different backgrounds or communities [want to get to know each other], we help facilitate that,” she said.

Crossroads hosts several events on and off campus each year, and in 2008, the center drew about 15,000 people to McKenzie Court in Tuscaloosa to see American Idol star Ruben Studdard perform.

“[McKenzie Court] was a housing project area, and it had a reputation for being pretty rough,” said Brice Miller, the center’s assistant director. Crossroads partnered with the city to re-introduce the court to the community since it was known as a very non-multicultural area.

The center also holds an annual fair in downtown Northport, and in 2009, they had a turnout of about 8,000 – 9,000 people.

“We had an old school street fair, and it was beautiful,” Miller said. “[It was] a community engagement initiative — our way of reaching into the community.”

And on April 7, the program held the Spoken Secrets Poetry Jam in the Ferguson Center’s theater, which featured Georgia Me, a spoken word poet who appeared on programs such as “The Monique Show,” according to the University news release. The poetry jam was a student-led initiative, Miller said, because students involved in the program said the campus lacks ways for students to express themselves.

The poetry jam ended around 9:30 p.m., but students stayed outside until about 11 p.m. “That’s what we seek to do in our program,” Miller said. “[The program] brought students together who may not normally be in the same programs together.”

Additionally, Crossroads offers a program called Sustained Dialogue on a bimonthly basis, providing students with the opportunity to come together to reflect on community diversity, the program’s Web site,, states.

“We encourage conversation and we encourage getting to know [each other],” she said.

Miller said the center’s goal is to facilitate creating relationships across cultures on campus and to be a resource to for cross-culture issues in the community.

A misconception that Miller said people have is that race directly correlates to culture, and he said it’s important to understand cultures as separate issues.

“I’m from New Orleans, so if you ask me about my culture, I’m going to talk to you about New Orleans, not my race, because my race is not my culture,” he said. “Because of the history of the South and this state and the University, we never use the terms diversity or multicultural.”

Claire Brucker, station manager for the campus radio station, 90.7 The Capstone, said this semester she and Miller decided a radio program hosted by student interns from Crossroads would reach out to more students.

“[The interns] titled their show creatively with ‘Turn on the A.C.’ and got off to a great start playing world music and having interviews,” she said, with “A.C.” referring to Alabama culture.

Brucker, a junior majoring in broadcast, said “Turn On the A.C.” is one of The Capstone’s strongest specialty shows.

“We are honored to have them on air weekly,” she said. “‘Turn on the A.C.’ will benefit UA students through education on Alabama Culture, and I believe this will one day become a trend though college radio all over the country.”

Josh Carter, a senior majoring in chemistry, said it can be hard for people to separate culture and race because of how intertwined some stereotypes can be with culture.

“It’s a really great thing for other cultures to be around each other, because they become more open minded, and they don’t stereotype so much,” Carter said. “This is a big university, and people from smaller towns, for example, may not know a lot about different cultures, so they automatically go to stereotypes associated with races.”

But when students get to know other people, Carter said they more respectful of what their real culture is.

“Before you get to know them, you only know what you know, and you only know what other people tell you — you’re just narrow minded until you experience it. A lot of times what you’ve heard isn’t true at all,” he said.

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