By Mallory Harris | Staff Writer
The Multicultural Affairs department, which houses three different student coalitions, has outgrown its current office space inside the Student Union Building.
To fulfill the need for growth, Matt Burchett, director of Student Activities, had the idea to renovate the unused radio room and provide the space to Multicultural Affairs. With financial help from Student Government, this plan has become a reality.
Student Body President Sutton Houser explained how this project has been in the works since last fall. First acquiring the space, deciding on the right amount the project needs, searching through contractors and finally starting, took some time.
“[The project] is showing students that we are being more aware, we are working towards providing more opportunities to those student groups who are wanting to expand and become bigger organizations and provide more services for students,” Houser said.
Portland, Ore., senior Kate Pitcher, a senator on the financial committee, explained how this expansion will allow each coalition intern to have their own space.
To help financially, a bill was drafted by Pitcher, Houston sophomore Ruhi Thapar, and Beaumont senior Christine Phan for originally $50,000 to renovate the space, Houser and Pitcher explained. Pitcher shared how the bill went through different stages before a final amendment of $40,000 was decided. Talking through the different ways the money would be used, asking questions and deciding its effects was a way for senators to further understand the bill.
“We had over an hour of debate over the bill, but ultimately enough senators believed that this was definitely needed for Multicultural Affairs and that it would be a great use of our money, and so it ended up passing,” Pitcher said.
Houser explained this bill is very timely as the university’s Historic Commission report was recently released, and many students are striving for diversity across campus.
“I think it’s also important for our community that we’re working together in light of this conversation around racial inequity that we’re continually evaluating what we can do better and how we can continue to support each other to create a more caring community,” Houser said.
For the Multicultural Affairs department, this renovation not only helps in a physical sense but also in the way its work impacts students. Houser shared how the plan is to allow the department to host meetings and services when there wasn’t space to do so beforehand. Pitcher further explained how providing this designated space for the student coalitions was meaningful for her.
“This bill was pretty impactful, I think even as just a representation to show our students of color that we care, that student government was willing to put so much money into a project for students of color who have typically been marginalized on campus as well as in society,” Pitcher said.
The project began over winter break, and the plan is to have it done by the end of the year, Houser said. He said having growth within the Multicultural Affairs office has been on the minds of many and to see the fruition of those ideas is exciting for what will come in its future.
“From student government’s angle, partnering with these student groups and helping promote them and provide support for them. Being able to walk alongside these student organizations who already do a great job serving our campus, from student government, we are excited,” Houser said.