After Years of Growth, MRC Revamps Office Space


Courtesy of Alison Williams

Students convene at the 2014 Multicultural Resource Center New and Returning Student Open House. The event was held in the newly renovated MRC.

Elizabeth Dobbins, News Editor

The College renovated and expanded the Multicultural Resource Center this summer, providing more meeting spaces and individual offices in a response to the Center’s increased use over the past several years.

“In general, we’re hoping we’re able to use it as a meeting space in a more efficient way,” said Alison Williams, associate dean for academic diversity and director of the MRC.

The MRC, which serves as a collaborative hub for historically underrepresented communities, will continue its work to achieve this mission by providing trainings for campus groups and hosting events such as this past weekend’s community cookouts.

“We find that the MRC is heavily used by all students, in particular the students in the vari- ous communities,” said Tina Zwegat, building representative of Wilder Hall. “Over the years it’s become kind of a hangout space. It’s also become a meeting space. It’s used so heavily and by so many people that giving them that extra space gave them the ability to [be more] comfortable.”

Donnay Edmund, College third-year and 2013–2014 MRC facilitation and training associate, said she hopes the renovation will create a space for more communities to enjoy. However, Edmund said she believes the new space is only part of the solution, and that funding also must be provided to hire community coordinators for native and indigenous, first-generation and disabled communities.

“Renovation does not always mean addressing the root issues that the MRC needs funding for,” said Edmund in an email to the Review. “The renovation is needed and useful; however, the needs [of ] the space range far beyond just having a nicer space to be in.”

The MRC has also been using the newly renovated Student Union kitchen across the hall, a space that Williams feels will aid the MRC in preparing for future events, such as the upcoming collaboration with Oberlin Hillel and the Office of Religious and Spiritual Life. The event will bring in writer and political commentator Jason A. Johnson to deliver a talk titled, “Racism, Politics, and Police Brutality: Ferguson and Beyond.”

Plans for the MRC’s renovation were brought to the Student Union Board in the spring of 2014, which proposed incorporating the neighboring room, Wilder 206, into the plans for the new space. The Student Union Board, in an effort to better fit the needs of student organizations, repurposed several stu- dent organization offices into storage spaces or general meeting rooms.

The square footage gained from this additional room resulted in an expansion of the MRC’s central area. In addition to the pre-existing couch space, the MRC now has a meeting area with a table and a projector for presentations.

Providing community coordinators with individual offices was a priority for the renovation. Previously, two community coordinators shared each MRC office, which made it difficult for students to consult privately with the coordinators.

“But now each community coordinator has their own office, so there’s a little more privacy,” said Williams. “It’s just a brighter space. It’s more user-friendly in general.”

The MRC has also been working to introduce new students to the MRC’s resources through the Africana Cookout, Asian Pacific Islander Diaspora Cookout and Latino/a Cookout this past weekend.

“[The cookouts were] for people to get to know each other, to get to know the MRC,” said Williams. “It’s open to all students on campus. Whatever staff are there, we introduced them so people can know what their resources are. All the student groups get to introduce themselves to what they do. So it’s a way for especially new students to learn what things are going on and to socialize.”