OMSA, Amandla share a new home

By Andrew Alexander

Minority students will soon enjoy expanded space as the Amandla Student Resource Center and Office of Minority Student Affairs (OMSA) announced plans to relocate to 5710 South Woodlawn Avenue.

The move, expected during the 200–2008 school year, will unite both the Amandla and OMSA offices, which are currently located in the East Tower of Harper Memorial Library and the Administration Building, respectively.

“We’re trying to make this a space that students want to come to,” said Derrick Brooms, assistant director of OMSA. “It can be a space for dining, socializing, e-mailing, studying, fraternizing.”

The separation of the two offices has prevented students from fully using their resources, according to Brooms. Currently, most of OMSA’s administrative tasks are handled in the Administration Building, while the Amandla Center serves as a student lounge and space for OMSA programming.

“[Amandla] is in a kind of out-of-the-way position; a lot of students still don’t know about the space,” said Stefani Guerra, a fourth-year in the College who has worked at the Amandla Center for the past two years. “It’s pretty much used in evenings during the week for scheduled activities.”

“It’d be nice to have somewhere that’s a permanent location. Right now, it’s a walk-through to the bathroom,” she added.

Events and services that OMSA organizes for Amandla include tutoring, diversity lectures, research brown bags, and movie nights, as well as informational sessions with the College Programming Office, Career and Alumni Placement Services, and other departments.

The separation of Amandla and OMSA hinders collaboration between the OMSA staff and the student staff of Amandla, according to Guerra.

“We don’t have access to the same kinds of resources,” she said.

“Being in the Administration Building sometimes keeps students away,” Brooms said.

The relocation was inspired by the 2003–2004 report of the Provost’s Initiative on Minority Issues, which recommended that “[t]he Amandla Center should be more centrally located in larger space, and OMSA should be located within or directly next to it.”

Since then, a student committee has been working with the administration to identify possible locations for relocation.

“Every decision we’ve made about [the move] has kept the student perceptions and desires in mind,” Brooms said. “They’ve participated in every meeting.”

Although plans are not definite and depend on space, OMSA and Amandla will likely be joined at their new site by a third student resource center, possibly the LGBTQ Student Resource Center, according to administrators.

The University is currently in the process of selecting an architect to renovate the building, which currently houses the offices of University Publications and Training and Development.

University Publications will move to the Edelstone Center on 61st Street and Ellis Avenue, and Training and Development will move to the Regenstein Library, according to an employee in the building.