Cross Cultural Center changing faces at Assumption
Building the Tsotsis Family Academic Center was not the only development here at Assumption College during the long summer months. As students may now be aware, the College faced a budget gap due to lower than expected enrollment numbers. As a result, Assumption had to close an almost 1.5 million dollar gap—something the College completed quickly and efficiently over the summer. The College used a combination of position eliminations, reassignments, and by not filling already vacant positions to meet the budget gap. The college’s position has always been clear: students will always come first, and it was clear that the school did try to keep that adage in mind when making those decisions. Yet, as the school year began, it has become clearer that some of those decisions made by the college were disproportionately affecting groups, such as the group ALANA, operating out of the Cross Cultural Center. ALANA is a group I belong to.
One of the ways ALANA was affected, was through the loss of the Director of The Cross Cultural Center (CCC), Bea Patino. While she was not lost to personnel cuts, her position here in the CCC was eliminated after she accepted a new position at Admissions to help recruit students of color to Assumption College—something a predominately white campus should be invested in. Yet, investing in recruiting students of color should be met with supports for those very same students once they get here. Cutting the director of the only office whose position is to better campus for students of color is not the way to do it. Having a director of the Cross Cultural Center was invaluable. Bea served as a director, a boss, a therapist, a concierge, and a friend interchangeably. She was a mouthpiece for students who believed in their voices but did not know where to start.
The Cross Cultural Center has been lucky though, to have had auxiliary supports identify themselves during this transition period; but the CCC is a large enough office with an important mission that the College should continue to support. ALANA students are especially disappointed in that as of yet, the college still has no definite plans for the office next year. Dean Conway Campbell has stepped in as the ALANA advisor for this year, and works half time out of the Cross Cultural Center; but his workload is doubling after this year after he absorbs yet another position. How is he expected to dedicate the necessary amount of time to the ALANA Network and the Cross Cultural Center with the many hats he will be expected to wear? It is disheartening to know that a club that is dedicated to uniting all students’ is forced to change operations due to a problem outside of our control.
The College has made many strides in making campus more inclusive, and expanding the student population base. This was seen with the formation of different committees such as the Presidential Task Force on Race. However, the choice made by the college to eliminate the director’s position in the CCC goes directly against the goal of those committees, and efforts by students and faculty alike. How can a school pledge to create a better environment for students of color then relocate one of the only faculty member who furthered the mission of the Cross Cultural Center and who students felt comfortable talking to? Students who invest their time in the mission of the CCC feel blindsided by this decision from the college, because it was always understood that students and their needs will come first, and those needs will be supported. The college needs what the Cross Cultural Center offers, and cannot expect the office and organizations to run the same as years’ past with little to none of the resources it once enjoyed.
The Cross Cultural Center is not asking for something that is impossible—predictions for next may include another budget gap, and we understand that funds may not be available for a full time director position. Although everyone is understanding of the colleges’ financial situation, it is not fair for certain groups feel the squeeze of cuts more than others. ALANA students look to the college for help moving forward, and the perfect first step would be securing any type of leadership (part-time, grad assistant or otherwise) for the office and it’s organizations for the next academic year. Students pour time and effort into the CCC and its mission, and these same students are looking for their investments to be protected. This step from administration would show these students that they do matter, and unity on campus is a priority for all.
Shalahn Staten, a senior, studies human services, sociology and psychology. She is a staff writer for Le Provocateur.