EDITOR’S NOTE: The Volante’s Bennett Clary and Miles Amende contributed for this article.
The third and final Opportunity Center stakeholder meeting was held Oct. 25, in which members of the Opportunity Center Task Force met with the Student Government Association (SGA) and the Environmental Club to gather input on how the center should operate.
Laura McNaughton, university President Sheila Gestring’s chief of staff, said the plan is for the Opportunity Center to expand on university services like the Leadership Development Program, promote engagement and provide networking opportunities with alumni.
The Opportunity Center director, McNaughton said, will connect students with campus resources. Additionally, they will help bring speakers “on a variety of different topics” to campus.
“If we have a student who is struggling with academics, we can have this person assist in finding a tutor. If we have a student who wants to have a conversation about possibly coming out to their family or friends, we can connect them with Spectrum…” McNaughton said. “If a student’s having a mental health crisis, this person can help get them set up with (the) Cook House and (a) mental health counselor. If a student is just struggling trying to fit in, we can have this person figure out what their interests are and find student organizations that might be helpful to them so that they can connect with people on campus.”
In place of the Center for Diversity and Community (CDC) the task force is considering establishing a multicultural center, which McNaughton said will be separate and apart from the Opportunity Center. A name for the multicultural center has not been decided as of this time.
One plan for the multicultural center is to have it be a space for other student services like TRiO or mental health services to rotate through.
Additionally, the student organizations who currently have offices in the CDC, such as Spectrum, Tiospaye Student Council and other diversity organizations, will no longer be able to use the space for offices.
University General Counsel AJ Franken said these current office spaces violate section 6:13:1, item 5.4 of Board of Regents policy, which states “Access to, and use of, facilities and grounds at institutions shall be equally available to all student organizations, regardless of the ideological, political, or religious beliefs of the organization.”
“We do not have the space resources to allow for designated office space for all—180, somewhere in there—student organizations,” Franken said.
Instead, SGA president Ally Feiner said, these spaces will be available for reservation. She said this is an equal opportunity issue, and that space is a very limited resource on campus.
“So the students that may identify as a member of Spectrum or Tiospaye, they’re still welcome to have their meetings at the CDC or the multicultural center, they’re still welcome to hang out in there and do their homework, they’re still welcome to come there and have that be their safe space, they’re just not able to say ‘this is our office space,’” Feiner said.
There will be a search for multicultural center and Opportunity Center directors in the next few weeks. The hiring process will involve a search committee, student input and possibly a forum discussion.