From sword-fighting to African dance: the Student Center hosts grand opening

Ignacio Calderon

By Camilla Forte, Photojournalist

Following a buildup over years, the Student Center officially welcomed students and the South Loop community into its sleek, modern, glass-walled arms during a Grand Opening Ceremony.

“I’ve been waiting for this day for such a long time, personally,” said President and CEO Kwang-Wu Kim.

Beginning Wednesday at 4 p.m., the ceremony included performances by musicians, dancers, sword fighters and speeches. Vice President of Student Affairs Sharon Wilson-Taylor; Student Government Association President Kierah King; a representative from Gensler, the firm that designed the Center; Columbia’s Board Chairman Bill Wolf; Ald. Sophia King (4th Ward); and Kim spoke to the packed house.

The Columbia Swashbuckling Renegades commemorated the opening with a celebratory sword fight as they cut a the giant red ribbon at the foot of the stage, symbolically opening the Center to all.

Senior Vice President and Provost Marcella David said the ceremony highlighted the diversity present within the college.

“We went from sword-fighting to African dance and back again in a span of 20 minutes,” David said. “It was pretty incredible, and somewhat unique to Columbia.”

That artistic diversity continued throughout the event as each of the center’s five floors had a specific theme meant to showcase Columbia’s different departments and student communities.

Highlights included live performances from the Dance Department, live “mannequins” modeling designs from the Fashion Studies Department, a live broadcast by WCRX-FM and interactive set-ups by the Cinema and Television Arts Department.

Through activities and displays, those attending had a chance to not only see what Columbia’s new Student Center has to offer, but also to interact with students and, in some cases, experience the center for themselves.

Kim was excited to see the school’s vision for the building come to life.

“I’ve been walking through almost every day, and just seeing the ways that our students are now taking over spaces,” Kim said. “That’s, of course, what I was dreaming about.”

Additional reporting by Ignacio Calderón.


Correction 09/20/19 at 7:08 p.m.: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated the order of events, the name of Ald. Sophia King and did not include the full list of speakers at the ceremony. The Chronicle regrets these errors.