Provost’s relocation plan isolates student minority groups

Published by adviser, Author: Gabriella Lyons - Contributor, Date: February 25, 2016
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The Robert M. Smith Student Center (SSC) has been bringing Slippery Rock students closer together since the fall of 2012. However, this environment is being threatened for students of color, women, LGBTQIAA++ students and veterans. I am livid, and this anger springs from the threatening message delivered by the University Provost, who is responsible for academic and student affairs, at the last SGA meeting on Monday, Feb. 22, 2016. He revealed plans for the relocation of several offices within the SSC Student Development Suite. Specifically, the OMD, Women’s Center, Pride Center and Veteran’s Center face expulsion from not only The Suite, but from the SSC entirely.

According to the Provost, these four offices will be relocated to the old Student Union. The Provost’s announcement, of course, was met with confusion and outrage. The Provost explained that the old Student Union would undergo its own renovation and be renamed “The Center for Student Success,” which will contain a multitude of administrative offices whose mission is to promote student success, but strangely also the OMD, Women’s Center, Pride Center and Veteran’s Center.

My number one concern is the symbolism of moving the offices representing historically disadvantaged groups in America (women, people of color, the LGBTQIA++ community, and veterans, respectively) out of the building with the most foot traffic on campus. The Center for Student Success was described as an administrative building (like Old Main), and when asked, the Provost was unable to confirm any plans for a dining hall or café which might encourage more visitors.

Old Main is not known as hangout spot on campus by any means, especially compared to the way students congregate in the SSC, and this is precisely my concern, that the administrative nature of this proposed building will diminish the popularity of these vital offices.

It also paints an unflattering picture of Slippery Rock University to move the offices that are committed to protecting diversity to a topographically lower location and further estrange them from the student government and the building with the most resources and meeting rooms.

Everyone knows western Pennsylvania is not as accepting of minority groups as it should be. Institutionalized racism, sexism and homophobia run rampant on Slippery Rock’s campus despite the best efforts of these offices, so further devaluing them promises to be a public relations nightmare for the university. The headlines could be devastating to future enrollment, “Slippery Rock University Screws Minorities Once Again!”

Second, the administrative staff which makes up the affected offices were not consulted about these impending changes, which the Provost admitted but was obviously unfazed by. If the administration is happy with and enjoys the facilities that were custom-made for them, why are they being forced to leave without even a consultation?

Finally, this change undermines everything for which SGA strives. If we have trouble collaborating while within The Suite; can you imagine the divide that would emerge once the affected offices are in a completely different building? The University Provost stated that he did not hold any of these concerns, despite his job description including student affairs.

As students, we need to consider the ramifications of these plans and the credibility of a Provost who cannot or will not keep our best interests in mind. If our Provost could not foresee this backlash and does not listen to our concerns, then what is he really doing for the affairs of students at Slippery Rock University? We need to unite behind this issue and demand that our voices be heard.

The SSC was funded by us students, and it is colloquially known as the Student Center. In fact, many organizations within the suite have customized spaces to meet their unique needs.

For instance, the Women’s Center was built with a crisis room which is a secure, quiet space staff use for counseling and (obviously) crises. The beauty of the design of the CSIL office is that it attempts to unite student organizations and foster a sense of community which benefits student life on campus. In the past three and a half years organizations have made The Suite their home, and inter-organization unity and cooperation has grown immeasurably. However, there is always room for improvement. More collaboration between organizations can only benefit the Slippery Rock student body by creating an environment of harmony. It follows then that the student body will suffer when this harmonious environment is destroyed by the segregation of the CSIL offices.

13 COMMENTS

  1. I really hope there will be enough of an uproar about this that the Provost realizes what an awful idea it. It’s really shameful that SRU would even consider this plan that obviously targets minorities.

  2. The RSSC was built and designed to serve the student body and specifically the student organizations who had no space in the former Union. The Suite was designed for organizations so that they could interact, communicate and develop programs together. It is a model of student engagement touted in the field of Student Affairs. It would be a regression in student development if The Suite were taken from the students. Thank you Rocket for your stance on this issue. Someone has to be the voice of students at SRU.

  3. As an alumnus, we students had to fight for those spaces to begin with when all of our offices were scattered or hidden around campus. Ironically they are being moved back into the same building that we broke free from almost 4 years ago. This is another example of the value Slippery Rock University currently places on cultural diversity on campus. I am still a proud alumnus – but this has got to stop.

  4. This is an awful representation of what was discussed at the SGA meeting. I was there and we all took in what Provost Way had to say about the new building cautiously, but fully appreciating what it is supposed to be. No one can predict how much “foot traffic” a building will see. Provost Way DID in fact confirm that there would be some type of food vendor, but as the completion of the project is so far away, it is impossible to know exactly what. This report is skewed towards the views of the single person there who asked several questions unprofessionally on this topic specifically. It’s unfortunate that everyone has to base their opinions off of the article, and not what was actually discussed at the meeting. For those students passing judgement, you very well could have been at the meeting, as they are open to anyone who wants to know what is going on at SRU. It was also discussed about the lack of space in the Suite currently, as it was reported several organizations share one DESK. Not an office space, a desk. This new facility will provide a much bigger area for all offices that will be there, and trying to predict who will and will not go there is ridiculous. Also, I would like to know why everyone thinks that it is only going to be these minority group offices inside this new building? Has anyone here seen exact designs with what will be contained in the new center? Again, while we have no possible way to say who will utilize this center and how often, I guarantee there will be students (yes, students outside of minority groups as well) that will greatly enjoy the new facility. But if you must talk about foot traffic, as a student living off-campus, I walk by the old Union much more often than the Student Center!! Here’s something else, we all know the terrain at SRU (as it was noted by the person at the SGA meeting by coining the phrase “sending us down the hill”), if you spend all day on campus in the quad, which is easier to walk to, the Student Center up the hill or the future Student Success Center right across the street? All facets of the media have a way of blinding people to what really happened, don’t let this particular article have that effect on our campus. Do your research before taking a side.

  5. As an Alumni and the first person to really raise issues about Veterans on campus it was an uphill battle to get Veterans a lounge and Veterans equality on campus. It meant a great deal to recognize Veterans on campus and to get a lounge where other Veterans could meet and do homework and interact with others on campus. To find out that this is going to be moved for no apparent reason just shows the lack of understanding about Veterans and lack of cultural competence on campus. I just might have to write a letter to the Provost and show my disaproval…..

  6. Went to research this student. I found her Twitter with a link to her tumblr page called, “sipping white tears”. It’s amazing the rocket allows such race baiting and hatred.. Do not judge a book by a cover. Just an idiot by their context. Ms. Lyons, you are the reason Americans are seeking trump for election. For that I thank you, America is tired of such whiny losers who can’t appreciate things but only want more.

  7. As a parent of an SRU student, I find it appalling that the Provost would seek to isolate any group(s) of students based upon his desire to create a “one-stop-shop” for assistance and to give them more room to socialize together. Even more appalling and dangerous is a government worker who may have input on public policy resort to name calling and researching of a student who speaks her mind. How immature and creepy. Perhaps this issue deserves more public exposure. Hopefully the Provost will come forward and make public the research he conducted for his original decision.

  8. The one thing I miss most about Slippery Rock University is the immense amount of love and respect they have for student involvement. I was the Panhellenic President the first year the SSC was open and it was fantastic to get to know other organizations in an easier manner; simply walking across the room to their office. This provided a gateway for organizations who wouldn’t normally be involved, get involved with each other’s work. I developed relationships with people I normally wouldn’t see or talk too due to offices being in separate spaces. I was a student when the Old Union was active, the offices were separate and disappointing compared to what the SSC overs students now. In a time of change it is ashame the Provost is looking to separate and segregate students so they feel unappreciated because they have to be in a separate building for unnecessary purposes. This doesn’t show the love and respect for student involvement that I appreciated.

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