Cazenovia RAs to work for 'Multicultural Resource Center'

At Cazenovia College, a small residential college in Upstate New York, a new addition is coming to campus Wednesday: a “Multicultural Resource Center” that will be a “safe space for students to disclose their feelings,” according to its’ creator.

The center was created by Jessica Goddard, a Cazenovia College Senior studying Human Services. Goddard became interested in the issues surrounding diversity and privilege after participating in an intensive, six-week diversity training seminar offered by her school.

When she was given the opportunity to create a proposal to “make campus better,” with $1,000 from her school’s Residence Life office, Goddard came up with the idea for the Multicultural Resource Center. Her proposal for the Center sailed through the administrative bodies on campus, and she received official approval last semester.

In an interview with Campus Reform, Goddard explained that the Center will be staffed by a rotating series of five-to-six student RAs, which is now listed as a responsibility on the Cazenovia RA application.

Goddard is also a head RA, and she says that she has worked with her supervisor to make service at the Multicultural Resource Center a mandatory duty of the RA position.

As the Cazenovia Residence Life website says, “Resident Advisors, under the supervision of professional staff in the Office of Student Life, are responsible for designing, planning and implementing social and educational programs throughout the academic year.”

The Director of Residence Life at Cazenovia, Shannon Dobrovolny, confirmed in an interview that RAs will now be required to work with the Center in addition to their other duties.

As for what the center will do on a daily basis, “ [it] will provide programming to the student body to empower those who face oppression and educate the more privileged students about diversity and discrimination in society,” explained Goddard in an interview with her school newspaper.

The planned programming isn’t set in stone yet, but it will include “performers, speakers, slam poetry nights, film discussions, and art gallery showcases” and “host dialogue circles to start important conversations about difficult topics.

Goddard says that she also hopes that the Center will be used as a gathering space for minorities and other students to come for support or learn about their own privileges.

Dobrovolny also said that one of the focuses of programming will be “advocacy for marginalized groups” and “bystander training.”

But students aren’t the only people Goddard believes should be educated on their privileges, as “faculty would benefit too.” Many professors are “unaware of their own biases,” Goddard says.

The Multicultural Resource Center will open in the basement of the Cazenovia College student center.

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