Budget cuts force cultural ignorance

Without the Center for Social Justice and Multicultural Education, diversity programs are lacking.

Without the Center for Social Justice and Multicultural Education, diversity programs are lacking.

Student leaders can no longer be enthusiastic about Carl Moore’s Owl Pal Student Mentoring Program, announced in April, as neither the creator nor the department will be there to carry it out.

Joshua Fernandez

The program was simple: After the one-hour training seminar on mentoring, incoming freshmen participating in the program would be referred to a mentor from the student organization of their choosing. Having gone through the program, I was looking forward to being able to pay it forward.

On June 24, however, I received an e-mail from Moore, then assistant director for the Center for Social Justice and Multicultural Education, in which he wrote:

“Due to reallocation and prioritization of funds at Temple University, I regret to inform you that my position within the Office of Multicultural Affairs as the Assistant Director of our Center for Social Justice and Multicultural Education was eliminated (effective May 29, 2009).”

Moore’s position as well as all planned “CSJME driven initiatives” for the 2009-2010 school year have been eliminated.

There are many programs that could have been downsized in a time of financial distress, but the Office of Multicultural Affairs and CSJME should not have been one of them.

Moore also wrote that CSJME “does not have the capacity to work with students any longer.” This is a role now filled by the Office of Student Activities.

After reading the e-mail, Temple’s reputation for diversity came to mind. Without CSJME, so many programs and student organizations that promote diversity will have extremely limited support. This could be detrimental to new students and the school’s population as a whole.

“I understand with budget cuts, something needs to go,” said Bryan Mann, a sophomore Jewish studies and political science major. “But with a diverse campus such as ours, I feel a center where one can go and learn about the various cultures Temple students practice should be one of the last things to go.”
Mann also participated in the Owl Pal mentor training and said he feels student organizations will also lose the ability to reach out to incoming freshmen and transfers.

“The Owl Pal Program would have enabled [new students] to sign up for an organization of their interest online instead of searching among numerous tables [at student organization fairs],” Mann said.
Jessica Reed, president of the Progressive NAACP at Temple, said she is upset the downsizing of Multicultural Affairs and CSJME wasn’t announced before school let out.

“If [the] administration knew this [was going to happen], they should have told us while school was in session,” said Reed, a philosophy and human resource management major. “I think it’s unfair and a slap in the face.”

The announcement forced Reed to readjust the priorities of Progressive NAACP and other groups she participates in.

“That center was near and dear to my heart, and I’m really interested in working with the other 39 organizations that were under the center’s watch – [starting] a petition, [meeting] and [putting] on events, something that will let administration know that just because they took it away from us, doesn’t mean we’re going to [stop our programming],” she said.

Student groups operating with or out of these offices might have to band together, protest, write letters and take action to right this wrong. But in the mean time, we should acknowledge that if we continue to operate without Multicultural Affairs, we may no longer have the right to claim diversity as a staple of our university.

Joshua Fernandez can be reached at josh@temple.edu.

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