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The Daily Wildcat

 

    Center unifies groups

    Photo Illustration by Mike Christy / Arizona Daily Wildcat

Raquel Verdugo, right, a criminal justice freshman and student office worker with the Chicano/Hispano Student Affairs, displays her performance dress on Thursday in the Cesar E. Chavez building. In the background, Isela Hernandez, a nursing junior, and Ismael Peraza practice their cultural dancing audition for the April 9th ONELOVE Multicultural Showcase at the UA.
    Mike Christy
    Photo Illustration by Mike Christy / Arizona Daily Wildcat Raquel Verdugo, right, a criminal justice freshman and student office worker with the Chicano/Hispano Student Affairs, displays her performance dress on Thursday in the Cesar E. Chavez building. In the background, Isela Hernandez, a nursing junior, and Ismael Peraza practice their cultural dancing audition for the April 9th ONELOVE Multicultural Showcase at the UA.

    The cultural centers on campus will all be located under one roof as of July 1.

    “”Right now our cultural centers, they’re a great resource, but they don’t serve as many students as we’d like, including the students they were designed to serve,”” said Kendal Washington White, director of Multicultural Affairs and Student Success.

    The Chicano/Hispano, African American, Asian Pacific American and Native American Student Affairs will be in one community center starting this summer, White said. The Student Initiatives department, ASUA Pride Alliance and the Women’s Resource Center will also be combined into the center.

    “”The overarching goal and theme of this new community center is … inter-group dialogue. It’s social justice, it’s diversity education and, at the same time, still honoring traditional identity groups,”” she said.

    White said the Community center, which is still the working title, does not yet have a location. There are three possible locations, the Robert L. Nugent Building, where the Asian Pacific American Student Affairs and Multicultural Affairs and Student Success offices are currently located, the Center for Student Involvement and Leadership department in the Student Union Memorial Center or the second floor of Old Main.

    Not only will the new community center consolidate space but it will also consolidate faculty positions.

    Three of the four existing cultural center directors will take on an intercultural program director role in the community center where they don’t have to focus on all the tasks a center director does but can concentrate on programming, White said.

    The fourth director, Marc Johnson, director of Asian Pacific American Student Affairs, is leaving to pursue a doctoral degree, she said.

    “”People are losing positions because there’s a budget cut, and with a community center you don’t need as many people to run a department that’s all in one space,”” White said.

    Vice President of Student Affairs Melissa Vito said, in a memo, that this new plan would eliminate 20 positions but would also create 11 new positions.

    White will be the director of the community center for its first year, then the center will conduct a national search for a director, she said.

    White said she knows that there are some people who aren’t happy about the combining of the cultural groups.

    “”I think that people feel like if there’s not a cultural center for each ethnic group that those students are somehow going to fall through the cracks and not be served very well,”” she said.

    White said she thinks the new center will better serve students because it will be a place where students can “”work together and learn from each other.””

    “”There’s power in that,”” White said. “”I think again that we can serve the campus community better in this model.””

    “”I don’t think it’s the best idea,”” said Christeen Leal, an elementary education junior who is on the executive board for Filipino American Student Association.

    Leal said the cultural centers are places where students can make friends and form important bonds.

    “”And now that we aren’t going to have (Asian Pacific American Student Affairs), I don’t know what’s going to happen, because it helped me as a freshman a lot,”” Leal said. “”Having separate communities is showing cultural differences, which campus needs to be aware about.””

    Melissa Gomez, a psychology sophomore, said she was shocked when she first heard about the community center but she thinks it will work out in the end.

    “”I think that they have our best interests at heart,”” Gomez said. “”I think there’s always a need for change.””

    If all the cultural centers combine and focus on diversity together, not individually, a lot more diversity education will take place, White said.

    “”I think we’re stronger when we come together,”” she said.

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