Dozens of students, accompanied by members of the California Faculty Association, marched up the steps of Brotman Hall and gathered outside the president’s office, protesting the relocation of the multicultural centers.
The Organization of Historically Oppressed Students met with President Jane Close Conoley and her team on Thursday to discuss plans for building a six-story multicultural resource center on campus.
“We want a Multi-Cultural Resource building that provides equity for students of historically oppressed communities,” OHOS wrote in a statement, which was read during the meeting.
Student leaders from the Black Student Union, Muslim Student Association, Women’s and Gender Equity Center, La F.U.E.R.Z.A. and Queer Student Alliance said Long Beach State lacked the proper resources to support its demographically diverse student population.
The leaders proposed to Conoley the construction of “a fully-funded, state-of-the-art-building” for the multicultural center, staffed with academic advisors, mental health counselors and directors elected by students and community-involved faculty.
“I think it’s a great idea,” Conoley said. “We’d have to figure out how to do it, where to get the money, but I love the concept.”
The university president said finding the funds and getting approval from the Board of Trustees needed to be taken into consideration, especially with plans to rebuild Peterson Hall already underway.
“It takes two years for a building to go up once ground is broken,” said Beth Lesen, vice president of student affairs. “It takes a year to design, and however long to approve.”
The student leaders asked to have a “solidified response in writing” to OHOS from Conoley and her team by Oct. 3, promising to work on a plan for this new building.
Conoley said it was difficult to have a plan ready in five days, listing all the people and departments she would need to contact first. The leaders bargained to give the president and her team until Oct. 10 for a detailed plan on moving forward and asked to at least have something in writing by Oct. 3.
Before she could give the students a straight answer, Conoley said she had to leave the 45-minute meeting for another appointment with the senate.
Keith Claybrook, co-advisor for the Black Student Union, criticized Conoley for leaving in the middle of the discussion.
“You leaving, in my perspective, looks bad,” Claybrook said.
The Student Cultural Resource Centers, currently located in the FO-4 building, faces relocation to the University Library’s basement. Student leaders said this decision was made without their input and asked for the president’s team to consider moving the multicultural center to another location.
“The action of putting all historically oppressed students at the most hidden depths of the campus is visually and physically unsettling,” OHOS wrote in the same statement.
Student leaders named health and safety concerns for the basement location, such as the exposure to asbestos, the inaccessibility for disabled students and lack of security for students of historically targeted demographics.
Alfredo Heredia, president of the Queer Student Alliance, suggested moving into the Nugget building as a temporary space.
“Let’s talk about that,” Beth said.
The vice president of student affairs did not immediately reject this idea and instead offered to hold another meeting to discuss the pragmatics.
After the meeting ended, the student leaders addressed the protestors outside, giving them the new updates and letting them know the fight was far from over.