In the outer courtyard between the Student Success Center (SSC) and the Grace Street parking lot, construction workers laid the groundwork for a new monument on the JMU campus.
DeAndrae Powell, deputy director of the Greek Intercultural Council (ICGC) and the Center for Multicultural Student Services (CMSS), said “The Yard”, the name of this project, will historically commemorate Black, Latin and Asian fraternities and their involvement. with the JMU community. The Yard will feature plots dedicated to nine historically black organizations, two historically Asian organizations, and three historically Latinx organizations with a statue to commemorate each.
Tyler Jones is Senior International Affairs and Vice President of the ICGC. For him, The Yard embodies something much bigger than just a physical field. The ICGC recently hosted an event called âThe Yard Showâ to highlight members of multicultural organizations on campus and to teach members more about their own organizations.
âThe Yard is physical, but it’s also metaphorical,â Jones said. âWe and ourselves represent The Yard. “
Powell has not been able to disclose the cost of the project at this time, but he said he believes the project was a legitimate use of college funding. Some of the multicultural organizations featured are over 100 years old, and each organization has a history of fighting for social justice, inclusion, equity, women’s rights, and LGBTQ + rights.
âSome may see this as a waste of money, but representation is important,â Powell said. “If we are to continue to foster a campus where we have students of color, students of multiple intersections and different identities feeling comfortable on this campus, we should at least be able to provide them with a space where you can see it visually. . “
Jones said that when he lived on campus, before joining his fraternity, he often viewed Greek Row as a physical representation of an organization created at JMU and serving the community. However, he did not see this representation for the multicultural Greek organizations which he believes also do a lot for the community.
âFor years this has been requested by students, dating back to the 1990s,â said Powell. “[The Interfraternity Council] and panhellenic [Council] have Greek Row and other representations – students requested that there also be some kind of physical representation for our culture-based fraternities and sororities.
Powell said CMSS hopes to educate the campus about the importance and history of the plots on The Yard and how to properly honor those plots. Powell said those who are not members or invited by a member of the organizations should not sit on the field out of respect for the organization.
Kevin Jordan, a senior business management specialist, is the President of the ICGC. Jordan said that while plans to build The Yard have been in the works for some time, they have never taken a step as big as this one.
âWe are all extremely excited,â Jordan said. âHaving our construction done in a place where everyone can see, right in front of the Student Success Center, is very precious to us. “