BROOKINGS, S.D. (KELO) – A new facility is now open on the campus of South Dakota State University. It’s a state of the art American Indian Student Center.

You’ll find the American Indian Student Center in the center of campus at SDSU.

It’s a place students can come to study, or just hangout.

It’s where students like Mackenzie Hubbard and Traelene Fallis enjoy spending time and making new friends.

“I do come here quite a bit, I definitely come here to study and get out of my dorm as a change of scenery and also hang out with people, I’ve met a lot of amazing people here and I’ve met probably some of my closest friends here, and I’m also a tutor here,” student, Mackenzie Hubbard said.

“Everyone I see, even if I don’t know them I will say hi and I’m glad to see them here and to see people that come from the same background as me,” student, Traelene Fallis said.

This new center opened earlier this summer. Students and staff say it’s an upgrade from their prior facility.

“We were actually in the basement of the enrollment services building, which was underneath admissions and financial aid offices, and so being able to move to the heart of campus next to the main classroom building and Jackrabbit Village, that’s actually allowed more traffic for students to come in here, we are actually more accessible to students,” American Indian programs coordinator, Amber Morseau said.

“American Indians in South Dakota represent nearly 10% of the state’s population but less than 2% of the students in public higher education, so it’s our job in public higher education to open the doors to benefits of higher education to all people and so we are happy to open those doors wider and wider for American Indian students,” president of SDSU, Barry Dunn said.

Inside you’ll find the flags of the nine South Dakota tribal communities, as well as artwork.

“It tells the story of South Dakota and the American Indian experience in South Dakota, from the artwork with the treaties, that kind of shows how it was pre-colonial and then when colonization came, it kind of shows that transition but also the natural beauty elements of South Dakota,” Morseau said.

There is also a classroom and even a kitchen, which is something Erica Moore, the director of the American Indian Student Center says allows staff and students to have a place to gather and share a meal.

“I think the majority of the students love the brand new kitchen, it’s so nice because every time we spend time together we are sharing a meal together and we have such a small space previously so it’s nice to have the new kitchen and the space to hangout in there while we are cooking,” director of American Indian Student Center, Erica Moore said.

Morseau says a lot of the spaces here allow for community interaction, which she says is important.

“It’s really good to be able to see our students come in and bring friends and be able to utilize the different resources that we have available,” Morseau said.

“This is the space that they feel the most at home on campus and that they enjoy coming here because they can spend time with those that are like them and feel welcomed,” Moore said.

A place where students can not only spend their time, but also create friendships.

“If I didn’t come here through the American Indian Program, I probably wouldn’t have met my closest friends here on campus, so it’s nice, I’ve met people in my classes but I’ve also met people through the center which I am grateful for,” Hubbard said.

The center is open to any SDSU student. To learn more about it, click here.