Duke students demand new space for multicultural organizations

Eight multicultural student organizations wrote a public student letter criticizing Duke University for giving the Career Center an open spot in a campus building over the Center for Multicultural Affairs.

The letter claimed that such groups have been lobbying the school for decades for a better location on campus.

A coalition of eight multicultural student groups at Duke University recently published an open letter to university administration demanding more space be designated on campus for multicultural centers. 

The controversy arose from the university’s decision to relocate the Career Center to a recently-vacated space at the university’s Bryan Center. 

The applicable student organizations in the Center for Multicultural Affairs have been located on the bottom floor of the Bryan Center, according to The Chronicle, a Duke-based news outlet, in a space those student members consider marginalizing.  

“For decades, multicultural student organizations and marginalized student communities have been pushing for Duke University to recognize, respect, and fulfill our needs regarding physical space to create healthy and connected communities of students of color and marginalized students on campus,” the Oct. 26 letter stated.

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The space is “inaccessible to students with certain disabilities and hidden from the larger student body,” according the letter’s signatories: Asian American Alliance, Asian American Studies Working Group, Asian Students Association, Mi Gente, Mobilizing Asian Students Together, Duke Student Government Executive Board, Duke Diya (South Asian Students’ Association), and Southeast Asian Student Association (ASEAN).

The students also accused the administration of making “this deal behind closed doors, without student input, despite previously promising the space to multiple student groups who have been demanding more space for decades.”

But not all students at Duke support this letter. 

“The Duke Career Center is located around a mile off campus (or a 10 minute bus drive) at a very inaccessible spot,” a Duke student told Campus Reform on the condition of anonymity. 

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“Moving the career center to the middle of campus would be such a massive net benefit for all Duke students, compared to a few,” the student added. 

The student also said that the complaints in the letter are “overblown,” stating that “these student groups have space on a campus starved of it and have administrative support.”

“The Bryan Center is a center for students, and as such, student voices and agency should be at the forefront of how this space is utilized,” the letter continued. “We are here, and we demand to be heard.”

In response to the letter, the DSG Senate passed a resolution affirming the concerns raised by the letter, according to The Chronicle. 

 “DSG’s goal was to support ‘unanswered demands by marginalized groups for more space on campus,’ the resolution says, according to the outlet. 

The university did not respond to Campus Reform’s request for comment in time for publication. Campus Reform also reached out to the student groups that penned the letter; this article will be updated accordingly.

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @TravisMorgan76