El Centro Ambassadors, a coalition of students, alumni, parents, community members and organizations, is petitioning university officials to stop the slated June 1 relocation of El Centro Chicano, an organization that provides support and services to USC’s Latino students.Movement · The petition, which protests El Centro Chicano’s relocation from the United University Church, has received 519 signatures. – Ralf Cheung | Daily TrojanThe petition, which was released April 3, is addressed to President C. L. Max Nikias, Provost Elizabeth Garrett and Associate Vice President for Student Affairs Denzil Suite, and argues against moving El Centro from the United University Church on 34th Street, its home of 33 years, to a space within the Student Union or Ronald Tutor Campus Center. The petition argues that the move will cause space limitations that will inhibit the center’s functioning capacities.As of Sunday, the petition had 519 supporters. The El Centro Ambassadors said the goal is 800 signatures.Though an exact place for the relocation has not been announced, the organization will be relocated to either the Student Union or the Ronald Tutor Campus Center, said El Centro Chicano Director William N. Vela in a statement.Vela said the university administration believes the move will better foster the interactions between campus organizations.Suite said plans for relocation were made because the university wants to bring El Centro Chicano physically closer to other student organizations in student affairs.“El Centro is the only programmatic office in the Division of Student Affairs that is not currently in the Campus Center or the Student Union,” Suite said in a statement to the Daily Trojan. “This move will bring them together with other areas, which offer educational, cultural and support services to students.”Other university cultural organizations, including Asian Pacific American Student Services, the Center for Black Cultural and Student Affairs and the LGBT Resource Center, are currently housed within the Student Union.The El Centro Ambassadors, who “advocate for equal consideration of the student voice,”have started a petition in hopes of preventing the relocation. El Centro has called the United University Church home for 33 years.“We are asking for a meeting with Garrett, Nikias and Denzil to talk about the decision that has been made without those being directly affected by it the most,” the Ambassadors said in a statement to the Daily Trojan.The Ambassadors argue that the center’s move will force El Centro into a space that is one-fourth the size of its current location.“It is highly unlikely that the Student Union will allow for the quantity and quality of programming,” the petition states. “For instance, the Student Union closes at 5 p.m. Student organizations that host meetings and events at El Centro, and a handful of students who use the space to study after 5 p.m., will have to find other locations, which are few.”Suite said the petition reinforces the positive work of El Centro, which he hopes the relocation will continue to foster.“The petition serves as a helpful reminder to us that the work of El Centro is very important and has positively touched many lives at the university,” Suite said. “We are committed to ensuring that their great work continues for years to come.”Those who are petitioning, however, said relocation is not the only process to better the communication between campus organizations.“A change in space does not mean that there will be an increase in the interaction and communication between the different groups,” the petition reads. “This is an internal problem that USC has failed to address.”Rosalind Conerly, the assistant director of the Center of Black Cultural and Student Affairs, said the CBCSA and El Centro already play integral roles in working with one another without being housed in the same building.“We go through similar issues, so we do a lot of programming together,” Conerly said. “We often talk with one another about how to grow together and offer the best services to our students.”Though plans for El Centro’s relocation are not concrete, the CBCSA will continue to serve a supportive role, Conerly said. She said she sees the benefits in relocation, but also said El Centro’s current location is valuable for multiple student groups’ programming.“It will be nice that we are closer because we do work collaboratively,” Conerly said. “But we all utilize their sanctuary. They have that wonderful lecture space, so we do use it for programming and for outreach. When new students come, it’s a great way to introduce them to USC and the cultural centers.”Some students affiliated with El Centro Chicano said the move will not only result in the loss of the building, but a loss in a sense of community. Susana Pineda, a junior majoring in psychology, said the move will be a loss to many Latino students who have spent time at El Centro and built emotional connections to it.“Moving El Centro is like moving homes for so many students,” Pineda said. “Although just a location, it’s absurd to say that this place has not grown on so many students, who spend long hours studying, working or just enjoying each other’s company in the homely and resourceful environment that El Centro provides. It will be a hard adjustment to those students who have a history at the University Church.”The Ambassadors did not specify an end date for the petition.
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