Students advised to check out U’s cultural centers

by Nancy Ngo

Students at the University may not only lose their way geographically, but lacking knowledge of the numerous educational and cultural resources available in a diverse campus they may feel lost academically and socially as well.
For minority students this can be especially true, and particularly difficult to overcome.
The Office for Minority Affairs and Diversity, established in 1988, coordinates the more than 130 diversity-related programs available at the University.
Raising the profile of, and increasing services available to minority students has been a University goal since the 1970s and is a central part of University 2000, University President Nils Hasselmo’s comprehensive plan for restructuring the University.
Nancy Barcelo, vice president for minority affairs and diversity, said students may contact her office to find the services they need. There should be services available for every student, Barcelo said.
The Student Cultural Centers emphasize cultural and social activities.
“It is more social than academic,” said Natasha Arroyo, a sophomore in the College of Liberal Arts, of her experience with the La Raza Student Cultural Center.
The American Indian Student Cultural Center is located in Jones Hall; all other ethnic student cultural centers are on the first floor of Coffman Union.
The minority learning resource centers emphasize academics over social relationships, striving to provide culturally sensitive support to students.
“Our center has never wavered much from its goal. We have always had an academic focus,” said Carolyn Nayematsu, director of the Asian/Pacific American Learning Resource Center.
The resource centers have a holistic approach to their work, providing services in such areas as guidance and counseling, said Sue Hancock, director of the African American Learning Resource Center.
In the past, diversity programs have tended to focus exclusively on minorities, Barcelo said. Now diversity initiatives include programs addressing the issues of women, the disabled, and the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender communities.
The Disabled Student Cultural Center, located in Coffman Union, promotes disability awareness by focusing on disability issues and adaptive technology.
Kathy Strom, the program coordinator, says the center has started a library to serve as a clearinghouse for information and services for the disabled.
Although student needs may not be met by any particular service, referrals can be made by the minority affairs office or by any of the University’s diversity programs, Barcelo said.