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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Cultural centers to stay open and separate

    When the university announced that it was considering a proposal to combine the minority student affairs centers on campus into one large Unity Center, it was largely met with opposition by the minority communities.

    Those communities scored a major victory this week, as the UA and community centers confirmed that the centers will remain separate.

    The Unity Center would have included the Chicano/Hispano, Asian Pacific American, African American, and Native American cultural centers, as well as Pride Alliance, LGBT Affairs, and the Women’s Resource Center.

    The idea behind the proposed Unity Center was to improve campus diversity while consolidating the programs in order to save money, said Michelle Perez, director of the University of Arizona Center for Student Involvement and Leadership.

    Perez and others spent weeks interviewing students to determine how they felt about the proposal and admitted that it had met with mixed reviews at best.

    Estimates had the Unity Center saving the UA close to $1 million. It is currently unclear as to what the financial fallout of the centers staying separate will be, although the decision will reduce the financial savings the UA was expecting, said Melissa Vito, vice president for student affairs.

    “”I am working now to clarify the specific amount,”” she added.

    While no official word has come from the university as to whether the Unity Center is still a valid proposition for a point in the future, the news that the centers will remain open sheds serious doubt on any future attempts to combine them.

    Vito and President Robert Shelton met with members of the Hispanic community on campus last week to discuss the prospects of the Unity Center. The audience was largely against the planned consolidation, with many concerned that each minority group would lose its identity if it shared a space with other on-campus groups.

    Vito is working closely with the directors of each of the cultural centers to prioritize critical needs in order to best understand exactly what each center will be able to support next year.

    “”It is likely that each of the centers will scale back some of the operations at their individual sites while we centralize the administration of some of the programming…in order to help preserve resources,”” Vito said.

    One of the key factors driving the proposal for the Unity Center was to find ways in which the university could consolidate administrative support. In essence, the university felt that it was important to explore whether or not the disjointed minority centers could efficiently and cost-effectively operate under one unified administration, Vito said.

    “”It is clear that the Chicano/Hispano (Student Affairs Center) space not only plays a vital role in helping anchor our students culturally to campus, but it is also important to many members of the Tucson community who were directly involved in helping establish the Center,”” she said. “”We are looking at how we will go forward toward achieving all of the original goals of the transformation.””

    The directors of the cultural centers either refused to

    comment on the situation or referred the Daily Wildcat to speak with Kendal Washington White, director of Multicultural Affairs and Student Success.

    Calls and e-mails to White and Shelton last week and this week went unanswered and unreturned.

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