Ohio University’s Multicultural Center, located within Baker University Center, will soon undergo renovations and temporarily move locations.
According to a university news release, OU decided to move forward with renovation plans after receiving requests from students. The renovations are expected to better meet the needs of the students and programs that utilize the space in Baker.
On Aug. 4, OU also announced it would be merging the Multicultural Center and the Office of Multicultural Success and Retention, or OMSAR, into a joint office. The name of that center has yet to be announced by the university, but the merge was effective as of Aug. 4.
The renovation project will not only better suit students, but it will also assist the merge of those two entities, according to the release.
The current OMSAR office is located at 31 S. Court St., while the current Multicultural Center is located in room 205 at Baker. Due to the renovation project, the Multicultural Center in Baker will be closed and will instead operate out of 31 S. Court St. for the duration of the project.
Duane Bruce, executive director of Diversity and Inclusion at OU, said no timeline has been set for the renovation. Currently, the university is working to finalize its relocation plans and collect additional student feedback.
Maya Meade, a senior studying journalism and member of the Student Cabinet for Inclusive Excellence, said she believes the merger will be beneficial for minority students on campus.
“I think that a lot of people have agreed that it just makes sense for the two offices to combine — both of them have the same or at least similar goals for multicultural students,” Meade said. “It wasn't something that really made sense for them to be separated.”
After the completion of those renovations, all programs will return to the updated space in Baker. Meade also said despite the challenges that can potentially arise from changes inside the university, she’s hopeful for the future of the new center.
“I think overall, a lot of people are really happy about the merger … but there's been a lot of changes within the OMSAR office recently,” Meade said. “‘I know on a personal level, it's stressful when things continue to change. Especially being a senior, I don't really know if I'll get to see the benefits of the merger in the time that I have left, but I'm hopeful that it will end up being something really great.”
With the Multicultural Center merging with OMSAR, many first year students who are members of the LINKS program will have a new home. LINKS, which is an OMSAR program, connects students of color with peer mentors and provides success coaching, enrichment and workplace development opportunities.
As a LINKS Peer Mentor, Sedric Granger, a junior studying journalism, said his experience working with his mentees has been exceptional.
“I think it's a great way for younger students to be able to just have that older brother, older sister type of figure, and I think that's super important,” Granger said. “It's been phenomenal to have that opportunity.”
Granger agreed with Meade and said the merging of OMSAR and the Multicultural Center was rational. Granger also said with both the renovation of the Multicultural center and merger with the OMSAR office, it could be tricky for new students to navigate their way around but will be beneficial once the renovation is over.
“I think something that people would probably not like is the fact that one of the offices is going to be closed for renovations,“ Granger said. “That's kind of tricky where things aren’t going to be as consistent and they are going to be moving around. I think overall it’s a lot more good than bad. It's just something where it's going to take time, and I know a lot of people have been working super hard at each of these offices to make this happen.”