The Student Union Assembly (SUA) unanimously passed a resolution declaring opposition to a proposal that would relocate the staff of Student Organization Advising and Resources (SOAR) and over 150 student organizations and their members to the Crown College “pit” parking lot.
The Student Union and the Redwood Building are expected to be vacated by June 30, 2015, due to seismic renovations. The relocation site, proposed by the Dean of Students Office, would reduce the space used from 8,100 square feet to 2,500 square feet, which could potentially “marginalize students and organizations which use the services available in those spaces,” according to the resolution.
As a result of the resolution’s passage, the six SUA officers will draft a letter to Dean of Students Alma Sifuentes requesting that all tenants of the Redwood Building be treated fairly in finding an alternative location.
“Moving everyone to different spaces is going to be a problem because having everyone centralized helps — because SOAR has everyone right outside its doors to help with event planning,” said Internal Vice Chair Kaysi Wheeler, a co-author of the resolution. “Communication would be affected a lot more. It will affect the collaboration between organizations because it will limit the amount of time we interact with each other.”
Wheeler, who also serves as co-chair of the Filipino Student Association (FSA), is referring to not only her own organization, but the other four of the “Big Five” ethnic student organizations: the African/Black Student Alliance, Movimiento Estudiantil Chican@* de Aztlán (MEChA), the Asian and Pacific Islander Student Alliance and the Student Alliance of North American Indians. Engaging Education (E2), the student-initiated and student-run outreach and retention center, will also be forced to relocate, as well as the various programs that operate in the organization’s building.
Oscar Vazquez, chair of the Student Union Governance Board (SUGB), which consists of representatives from each college and the tenants of the Redwood Building, suggested in an email that the current relocation plan could jeopardize the success of future student-initiated events.
“[The Multicultural Festival] is a large event that SOAR helps coordinate with 20-plus organizations,” said Vazquez, who also co-authored the resolution. “Such coordination depends on centrality, safety and ease of access … The tenants have stressed that being moved to a noncentral and perceived unsafe space will deter students from volunteering in events that really do depend on public volunteers.”
More than 30 students from MEChA, FSA and E2 attended to show their support for the resolution and emphasize some of the concerns about relocating to the portable trailers in the Crown “pit,” which include but are not limited to the safety and remoteness of the location, the ability to hold meetings and work on projects, the difficulty of accessing event planning services, and, as a result, the potential to lower the retention rates of students.
“Some representatives felt it was time to show our solidarity with all the other organizations since SUA has not always seemed like a very welcoming space to those organizations,” Wheeler said. “This is a big statement to show that we are for those organizations and for students.”
To pass the resolution, the SUA suspended a bylaw that requires resolutions to be considered for a vote the week following its introduction. After some deliberation about the resolution’s language, SUA moved to a “roll call” vote, where each assembly person vocally affirmed the resolution. Vazquez noted that the quick approval was key because the relocation site must be chosen by March 1, and the next steps need to be taken to secure a proper relocation space akin to the needs of the Redwood Building’s tenants.
“The SUA and the SUGB have now voiced that the Student Union, its tenants and the student body as a whole should expect upgrades and not downgrades,” Vazquez said.