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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Student affairs proposes centralized support group

    The Student Affairs department outlined its white paper proposal Thursday to students and faculty, focusing mainly on the support of student within the UA.

    “”Students slip through the cracks on a regular basis at this institution,”” said Kendal Washington White, director of multicultural affairs and student success. “”Because we’re a large research-based institution, there’s not enough programs or services to support all of the students. And our retention rate – our freshman-to-sophomore-year retention rate – finally hit 80 percent last year. … Some people say that’s really good, but we just got there.

    “”We need to do a better job of retaining students and providing support for students,”” White added.

    After several months of brainstorming, the group designed what they call “”the 50.”” According to the proposal, the 50 will connect students directly with the UA community.

    “”The 50 concept is a way for student affairs in particular … to be able to reach every single first-year student in a cohort of 50 students,”” White said. Included in the cohort will be faculty, staff and peers. White said that while some students may already have contact with support groups, “”not all students have that.”” The major benefit is that all freshman will have some type of contact with a support group immediately, and “”teams will support the group to break this large university into smaller communities, which some of you have experienced on this campus. And I think it makes a difference.”” she said.

    Another important concept was the inclusion of a “”digital commons.”” White said some students may not like having to come in and meet with groups or schedule meetings, so creating a place where students can connect digitally is vital.

    White added that students already operate digitally with Facebook, MySpace and other Web sites to get their questions answered. “”What the digital commons conceptually looks like is a way for students to go online and be able to connect in with each other and with faculty and staff.””

    Other concepts presented included the Next Steps Center, where newly admitted students can find a multitude of resources, and the Unity Center, which will focus on social justice and the current cultural center.

    However, some students feel the centralizing of a resource center may be redundant.

    “”Only because the student experience is different. All students come from so many different places and to lump them all together in one big group, I think, is a disservice to where they come from. How can students learn and find a niche if they can’t find somebody to identify with on their own?”” Jose Federico, a Latin American studies junior, said.

    He added that the institutions that the proposal outlines are already in place.

    “”You already have the cultural center. So to put them all together in one big facility is like, for lack of a better word, ghettoizing what already exists. ‘Let’s give all the minorities their little place and keep them there.’ It doesn’t make any sense.””

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