Controversy surrounds multicultural office cuts

Office of Multicultural Affairs employees allege its cuts are unfair compared across the board.

Office of Multicultural Affairs employees allege its cuts are unfair compared across the board.

Students participating in several programs sponsored by the Office of Multicultural Affairs and the Center for Social Justice and Multicultural Education received a mass e-mail June 24 informing them that the office “does not have the capacity to work with students any longer.”

Now, after working with OMCA last week, Vice President for Operations William Bergman confirmed that the office will be relocated from its current home in the lower level of Mitten Hall to a suite in Conwell Hall.

“I think [OMCA and I] got to the point where we found the appropriate space that they’ll be able to continue to do what they do and have a space that enabled them to have a conference room,” Bergman said.

Bergman said the space is smaller than the one OMCA currently occupies, citing fewer people on staff as the reason. He confirmed that no one was fired.

“Some people were reassigned, and their jobs were going to be [carried out] in a different way,” he said.
Bergman said two employees whose work at the OMCA involved students were offered other jobs. One took another job in a different department on campus, and the other decided to take a job elsewhere. Bergman declined to reveal the identity of this individual.

The relocation of OMCA and its downsizing disappointed many students, especially those involved in the programs sponsored by the office, such as Owl Pals Mentoring Program.

“We were very excited about the Owl Pals program.We did the leadership programs they held last year, and we had a film screening down in the Mitten Hall office,” Student Peace Alliance President Rowena Lair said.

“What offends me about [the cuts with OMCA],” the junior education major added, “is that [administrators] haven’t consulted the student body about downsizing programs that a lot of student organizations worked with and loved, and we haven’t been consulted in terms of how the money has been spent in these areas.”

“The center was very good at helping other organizations work together and not just being separate entities, actually mixing different cultures, ideas and people together,” said SPA’s financial director and senior anthropology major Amber Tran. “I think it’s kind of sad Temple is doing this because if they wanted to build a stronger campus community so that more people will be on campus as opposed to treating it like a commuter campus, programs [like Owl Pals] could’ve helped”

Bergman said cuts totaling to about $40 million were made throughout the university.

Despite across-the-board cuts, a source who declined to be identified estimated that the percentage budget cut for the OMCA was about three-to-four times greater than the requested amount.
In terms of the OMCA, Bergman said the office would change in the way it functioned.

“It’s not a question of what programs won’t be offered,” Bergman said. “I think it’s a question of how you offer the programs and resources.”

Student Activities is filling the role being left void by the downsizing of OMCA and CSJME.

President of the Progressive NAACP Jessica Reed, a senior human resource management and philosophy major, said she was so disappointed in this matter that she moderated an off-campus student forum in regard to the issue.

In an e-mail sent to participants in the open forum, she addressed the multiple programs no longer being offered because of the downsizing of OMCA and CSJME, among them being Student Leadership Retreats, Owl Pals Mentoring, advising of multicultural organizations such as the Black Student Union and the Black and Latino Heritage Month Committees.

“We are fighting because they did not include us in the decision-making process,” she said of her reasons for calling the forum. “They made a student-oriented decision and students weren’t represented at the table. You can’t make a claim to diversity if you cut [programs and functions] of an office like that.”

Joshua Fernandez can be reached at

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