Housing to suspend, review Multicultural Advocate position

A+trio+of+biology+students+discuss+a+homework+assignment+in+the+main+lounge+of+Allen+Hall+on+March+9%2C+2019.+University+Housing+plans+to+suspend+and+review+the+Multicultural+Advocate+position+for+the+2021-2022+school+year.+

Madeline Pierce

A trio of biology students discuss a homework assignment in the main lounge of Allen Hall on March 9, 2019. University Housing plans to suspend and review the Multicultural Advocate position for the 2021-2022 school year.

By Luis Velazquez, Assistant News Editor

University Housing’s Multicultural Advocate position expresses awareness of social issues within the residence halls through community and staff involvement. However, University Housing will suspend this position for the upcoming 2021-2022 school year. 

The MA student position was created 19 years ago. The role is intended to bring together students of different cultures and backgrounds. MAs in each building create events and facilitate regular dialogues on current social justice issues. 

“MAs serve as leaders and role models within the residence hall community by confronting acts of intolerance or hate, encouraging dialogue among students and working toward the creation of truly inclusive communities,” reads the job description on the Housing website.  

Chelsea Hamilton, senior assistant director of communications and marketing for University Housing, said the Multicultural Advocate program will be on hiatus for the 2021-2022 academic year due to an internal and external review of University Housing. Hamilton said the assessment could not be done over a summer period. 

“In order to do this successfully and efficiently, we really need that full year in order to do this and not trying to squish it all into a three-month time period,” Hamilton said. “So the best way to kind of describe this and what our staff has been using is we are taking a moment to reimagine what the multicultural programs will look like in the future.”

“While the final decision of having the MA program to be on hiatus was made on Sept. 16 and shared with staff on Sept. 21, the overall review of the program began in Spring 2020,” said Cristian Biviano the interim assistant director for social justice and leadership education for University Housing in an email. 

Hamilton said the assessment will begin in Jan. 2021. Although the decision was made, there has not been a committee created for this plan. University Housing plans to create a committee that includes campus partners, community stakeholders and selected student leaders and alumni in order to get viewpoints from current students and former students who have been in the MA role. 

Current MAs will still work under their contract and are encouraged to partake in another leadership role within University Housing. However, certain aspects of the MA role could be rolled over to the Resident Adviser position for the upcoming year due to the hiatus. The current University housing staff is working on that plan, according to Hamilton.

Upcoming RAs will be expected to have more social justice training due to this decision. 

Gonzalo Higuero, junior in Business and current RA, said the MA hiatus could have an effect on University housing residents. Higuero said in the past years there have been great connections between the MAs and residents; however, it is a little bit more difficult to accomplish that through Zoom.

“I think that the position is more needed in order to create those affinity groups in order to create those connections amongst marginalized communities and much less people,” Higuero said.

Hamilton said she asks students who are affected by the decision to be flexible with this new upcoming shift of the MA program. 

“University Housing knows the needs of today’s college students have changed in many, many ways since we began this program 19 years ago,” Hamilton said. “So, with a whole new generation living with us and a whole new generation coming into University Housing, we want to remain as a department that is committed to social justice. We also want to be able to share a program with our residents that meets the needs of the future.”

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