I don’t visit the Multicultural Center, Casa Latina or the Diversity and Multicultural Student Services offices as much as I used to. But in the past few weeks, I have been stopping by, and I’ve noticed an increase in the number of Latino and students of color using these resources. The number of programs and events has grown just as well. However, as I visited each place, I felt like an outsider to some degree.
When Casa Latina opened, I believed it would develop community among students. When I was part of that growing community a couple years ago, I could see small but solid steps towards the needs of the students. However, I should point out that I lived on campus at that time. I moved to Oregon City this past summer. Since then, I have been out of what is going on, who is new to the community, how are the needs of the students being addressed and ultimately why must this work continue?
Perhaps, I have distanced myself too much without even knowing. However, I have given much thought as to why I or these places feel different. It seems that these places have become over the years fast paced, overloaded with work, expectations have risen higher, and yet moral obligation and duty is still present among these departments that are undoubtedly understaffed and under supported. My feelings I believe stem from my concerns for the students.
As a student, I feel empowered when I can connect deeply and grow from a program or from an individual. What concerns me is being regarded as just a number rather than a person. It seems that when a department is understaffed, the meaning of their work shifts and becomes more quantitative than qualitative. Students cannot afford to be seen as a number. I hope that this does not unfold within these offices. They are too vital and necessary for the growth and education for students of color and their communities.