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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

11/27/23 pdf
November 27, 2023


Photos by Christian deTorres. Design by Sean Connelly.

Student Life offices will be moving to different parts of the Campus Center, a move that includes the redistribution of space used by the student centers. However, the student centers were not aware that they were also losing space until they showed up at start the semester and saw their stuff in boxes.

“I came in before classes started for my interview,” one coordinator said. “They asked me if I had any questions, and I was like ‘Yeah, what’s going on here?'”

The student centers used to have full use of spaces on both the second and third floors of the Campus Center, giving each of the nine centers a large area for individual offices and lounges.

The new arrangements result in a loss of almost 25 percent of the Centers’ space, with half of their second-floor access now claimed for other offices. Spaces once used for one Center have been cut in half, with a small thin wall separating two groups.

“I crammed my desk over as far as I could,” explains a coordinator who requested anonymity when discussing issues involving their center. “But even with that, there’s hardly room in there to fit a wheelchair. What about students with disabilities? […] Some people who used to be involved [in my center] came up to see the new space, and they’re starting to think the program’s going to get cut. They’re leaving to go to outside clubs because they’re fed up with UMass. We’re losing people.”

Center coordinators are also concerned with the psychological and cultural needs of the students they work with.

“Students come to the Centers for support with difficult emotional issues, they need to be comfortable so they can talk about their experiences,” a student involved in the Women’s Center said. “It can be hard for them to open up when we’re so close to other people.”

Loc Tran with the Asian Center mentioned the difficultly of having discussion areas that the centers must share. Instead of each center having their own space, they now share group space in open areas.

“Of course we work together as students, but we’re here to support our own cultural identities,” Tran said. “That’s hard to do when you’re sharing space with groups that maybe speaking other languages and have different goals, different purposes.”

The biggest thorn in the side of the student centers is the way these location changes were carried out without any input from the students or communication from the administration.

“All these decisions were made over the summer to get it done quickly and quietly,” Tran said. “It’s like they’re saying ‘We have the power, this is our choice.'”

Not even the Student Senate was aware of the space reduction. Juana Matias, President of the Undergraduate Student Senate found out the second day of classes when Student Centers started coming to her with questions.

“There was no direct contact with the students, ” she said. “Some people told me they felt like their house had been invaded.”

Matias said the administration has acknowledged the communication disconnects, and that the student body now needs to move forward to help build better channels of communication.

“We are working to get the space back, and we’re working to gain even more space for the students,” she said. “This isn’t really a student center when the students are losing space. […] We can’t just talk the talk and say we want the space; we have to walk the walk and come to the table with concrete ideas to show why we deserve it. Part of that effort involves the student centers showing that they’re using their space productively, how they’re acting as a gateway for social, political and academic resources and not just a chill space for students. We need data to demonstrate how they’re engaging more students, bringing new people in.”

At the moment, it is hard to bring new students in when arrangements for the new space allocations have yet to be finalized. This is proving to be particularly difficult for the centers at the beginning of the fall semester when so many people are new to the campus and student resources.

Although student center coordinators are less than pleased with the new set up, their main priority is the UMass Boston student body. As one coordinator said, “We’ve recognized the decision. We have to work with that now and be here for the students.”

Student Centers at UMass BostonAdvocacy Resource for Modern Survival (ARMS) Center617-287-7169 – [email protected]

Alcohol and AddictionResource Center617-287-7981 – [email protected]

Asian Student Center617-287-7984 – [email protected]

Black Student Center617-287-7982 – [email protected]

Casa Latina617-287-7945 – [email protected]

Center for Students with disabilities617-287-7965 – [email protected]

Queer Student Union617-287-7983 – [email protected]

Veteran’s Center617-287-7985 – [email protected]

Women’s Center617-287-7986 – [email protected]