Randall Ojeda took over leadership of the Diversity Center on Oct. 18. Students weigh-in on changes they want him to make. Collegian file photo.
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Since Randall Ojeda officially started his role as director of the Efroymson Diversity Center on Oct. 18, students now have a full time staff member to assist them in fulfilling the goals they have for diversity, equity and inclusion on campus.
Matthew Vick is a senior creative media and entertainment major who hopes the Diversity Center will broaden its scope and support more groups on campus through Ojeda’s guidance.
“I think the biggest thing with the [Diversity Center] is that there are so many aspects that could use so much more support,” Vick said. “With having a director here, there will be some more community engagement regarding the DC, everyone can feel like they have a voice and interact with each other.”
Senior political science major, Jack Pitchford, spends time in the Diversity Center to show his support as an ally.
“As a white student on campus I want to become an ally, and I think that promoting the clubs and the work they are doing is important,” Pitchford said. “The new director is going to be awesome and because of COVID-19 and other reasons, it has been difficult. The students have been carrying it and having the administrative support is going to help further the DC.”
Senior anthropology major, Cameron Ellison, said she hopes more people can be welcomed into the Diversity Center now that there is a director.
“I have enjoyed [Ojeda’s] presence, and he will be good for the Diversity Center,” Ellison said. “I am hoping he can bring more students to the space. He wants to unify the university a lot more which means getting a lot of the organizations on the same page with each other because there has been some tension in the past between some of them and [he wants] to create a more wholesome space.”
There are seven physical offices present in the Diversity Center for various student organizations on campus. Ellison said she wants the space to be open to everyone, even if they are not part of a club that has an office.
Senior elementary education major, Molly Roth, said she is excited to see where the Diversity Center will go with Ojeda in his new role.
“I am really excited for Randall to come and bring his new perspective and to have a more administrative person in the [Diversity Center] … ” Roth said. “It is incredible what students can do with no faculty or staff, but with the faculty support it will take us even further.”
Roth said that disability is a part of identity and that autistic students should be included in the Diversity Center.
Sarah Blade, junior biology and classics double major, is a part of the BU Advocates for Autism Club. She made an Instagram post on Oct. 17 and titled the first picture in the series, “What I Want to See Change for Autistic Students at Butler with Our New Diversity Center Director, Randall Ojeda.” Blade said she hoped Ojeda would see the post.
“I had already been planning on making a post about the pros and cons of being an autistic student at Butler,” Blade said. “I wanted to make the post like a letter to [Randall]. The idea that the SDS [Student Disability Services] is the diversity center for disabled kids doesn’t make sense for diversity, equity and inclusion … Disability is a part of diversity as much as race, religion or sexuality.”
Blade also said that she and other students want a space on campus for their group to meet. She said that autistic students cannot advocate for themselves if disability does not have a place in the Diversity Center.
Marcos Navarro Garcia, senior critical communication and media studies major, said there are plans in place to change the space to be more welcoming to autistic students. He said that having an office for the group is not possible right now due to a lack of space.
Navarro Garcia also said he is eager to work with Ojeda and ready to see the center changed for the better.
“I hope that Randall can bring back an aura to the space because when I came in as a first-year, it felt like I was walking into an energy and tradition-filled space,” Navarro Garcia said. “I hope he can be his full self and really be the foundation for having that aura and presence again and be a sense of stability for students.”