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PLNU makes move to be more inclusive of all students

by Annie Buell and Katie Callahan

A Multicultural and International Student Center will soon be built within the ARC due to the efforts of MOSAIC and members of PLNU’s Diversity Council to promote diversity on campus and provide MOSAIC with official offices.

This center will be built within the ARC, according to Milton Karahadian, director of NicholsonCommons, and Lilia Davis, director of Multicultural and International Student Services. Others involved in the proposal and implementation process are the presidents of MOSAIC affinity groups and Jeffrey Carr, PLNU’s chief diversity officer and associate vice president for student development. Karahadian said that the Multicultural and International Student Center will be built over Christmas and operational by late January.

According to ASB President, AJ Wolf, ASB gave $10,000 to have the center built.

Karahadian said this effort will showcase and educate students on diversity.

“Part of our goals at PLNU is to have diversity on campus. We want to have multi-cultural and different ethnicities here so that we can offer our education to all people,” said Karahadian.

Carr said that this center will allow PLNU to better reflect the diversity in the world.

“This institution, like the rest of the world, is becoming more and more diverse. Right now, this institution is changing in ways that represent the world we live in,” said Carr. “[W]e care about students from different backgrounds…we accept and we’re inclusive.”

Karahadian said diversity groups haven’t had a central place where they can come and be together, much like any other department on campus.

“The Multicultural Center and MOSAIC have been sharing a spot in the commuter lounge and Lily Davis has an office down in the Bond Academic Center. And for a long time there’s not been a lot of support for them,” said Karahadian.

Looking around a lot at different areas and buildings on campus, Karahadian said he realized that the space at the entrance to the ARC was under-utilized.

“All it is is a passageway into the sitting area and off into the room. It doesn’t really take away from any functionality of the room,” he said. “There’s always a way to make things change. We can move the entrance way over and have the doors be somewhere else.”

According to Karahadian, the ARC employees have agreed they could place a Multicultural and International Student Center within the ARC and that it would be a “good idea.” He stressed that there are advantages to having the Multicultural and International Student Center in the ARC.

“It brings them into the student union building, which is the center place of the campus, that says, ‘You’re part of the family too. You’re just as important,’” said Karahadian. “[I]t also brings another demographic into the area to integrate with people that are also there now.”

Davis said via email that the functions of the Multicultural and International Student Center will vary from a venue for prospective diverse or international students, a meeting or working place for MOSAIC students and their larger organizations, and a place for current students to obtain resources/information about services.

MOSAIC club presidents senior Allison Kendrix and junior Meaghan Zuttermeister had a supportive role in the development of the proposal, alongside Carr and Davis.

Kendrix, president of the Black Student Union, said that students of their club are excited to have a consistent meeting place.

“Having this center built as a place for us to meet, create, plan and fellowship without the distraction of our previous location will be essential for all of our clubs,” said Kendrix. “It has been difficult in the past, trying to find different meeting locations and communicating with other clubs and leaders has been difficult, but now we will have a place to all work together and are thrilled.”

Zuttermeister, president of the Hui O Hawaii club on campus, reiterated Kendrix’s statement that this center will give students a place to meet without distractions.

“The center gives my club a place to meet for Hui O Hawaii meetings. Right now we meet in the MOSAIC/commuter lounge,” said Zuttermeister. “Sometimes there will be commuters in there or people walking in and out causing a distraction during the meetings.”

The center will also give MOSAIC some publicity and presence on campus.

“The center also puts the whole idea of MOSAIC out there,” she said. “MOSAIC is an organization that was established to help students that are minorities in Point Loma to feel welcomed and supported. Some people don’t realize that there is even such a thing as MOSAIC or a Hawaii club.”

Karahadian said the center will share a wall with the fireplace in the ARC. A glass window will be built between Davis’s office and the lounge area. The center won’t be visible from the other side of the ARC. Organizationally, Karahadian said the room will function as before.

“We’ll take the seating that’s there and move it towards the ARC desk and the functionality will not change one bit,” Karahadian said.

Karahadian said he is unsure of what the reaction will be when students return from Christmas break, but the ARC staff’s initial reaction was receptive.

“[This reaction is a] good indicator of their flexibility and willingness to share their space,” Karahadian said.

Davis also said students are excited for the center’s implementation because it gives them a place to belong.

“[Multicultural and international] students are excited and are looking forward to having a place to call their own,” Davis said.

Davis said a Multicultural and International Student Center has been discussed for over two years. But according to Karahadian, the process has been expedited over the past two weeks.

“They’re a very important demographic that we slowly are building. This [center] will help raise our awareness and also give them a place of meeting and hanging out,” said Karahadian.

Carr said this center gives PLNU the opportunity to better serve student needs.

“The ideas, the vision, the actual services need to grow and need to be what’s relevant for the people who are here,” said Carr. “As the needs change, we have a responsibility to the community to do things that make sense, things that will better serve all the students that are here on our campus.”

 

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These simulations of the new Multicultural and International Student Center are expected to become a reality by late January of next semester.

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