CME restructure underway

JACOB MADDEN, News Editor | [email protected]

After the departure of long-time director, Michael Blackwell, UNI’s Center for Multicultural Education is switching gears and attempting to restructure itself as a better resource for students and faculty alike.

A campus-wide email from President Ruud informed Panthers that, over the summer, UNI undertook the process of re-examining the role of the CME. The discussion included a panel of 50 students, faculty and staff brainstorming ideas for the new direction they felt the CME should go in.

According to Bob Frederick, executive director of student engagement and outreach, the CME is in an “exciting, dynamic place right now.” Frederick also commented that the CME is “ripe with opportunity” to become a place that is “more intentionally student-centric.”

The CME, with the direction of program assistant Jackelin Rangel, is now featuring a series called, “First Fridays.” According to Rangel, the events are held on the first Friday of every month and encourage further multicultural experiences in students and community members. Rangel and Frederick estimated that between 200 and 300 people attended the first First Friday event, held on October 2.

Attendees, both students and community members, ranged from young to old. These events feature many different cultural aspects, such as arts, crafts, dances, music, textiles and food. All of this is part of an initiative supported by the Executive Management Team to make the CME a place where people can “come and go as [they] please,” said Frederick. Frederick also noted that, “institutional support for [the CME] is critical,” and they have received it with the Executive Management Team backing their efforts, as well as President Bill Ruud and the Provost Jim Wohlpart.

“[The CME is] a home away from home for many students, especially multicultural students,” Rangel said.

According to Frederick, the goal is to not lose sight of the CME’s main priority: the students. To that end, spatial renovations are in the works with plans to include space for multicultural student organizations to meet and organize. The aim is to create a space where multicultural student organizations feel like they have a home.

Frederick said that Rangel has taken the initiative, in line with the student-centric model for the CME, to allow student ambassadors to take a larger role within the CME. The CME currently employs 10 students as “ambassadors” as stated in the aforementioned email sent by President Ruud.

Frederick stated that they want the ambassador to be an active member of the center, instead of an employee who files papers and makes photocopies; he said they want the ambassador to be a “part of the office instead of working inside it.”

Frederick said this would allow for student ambassadors to become the faces of the CME, as well as doing real research in order to produce and plan better programs for the UNI community, and especially the student body.

According to the CME website, the CME hosts many events outside of First Fridays, and will continue to develop plans into the future.

November is Native American Heritage Month, and according to Rangel, the First Friday event, held on Nov. 6, will feature several aspects of Native American culture. The event will feature some Indian cultural aspects as well. Frederick praised Rangel and the CME student ambassadors for all they do, saying that these positions are “where the rubber meets the road.”