Caitlin Howard

The office formerly known as the Office of Multicultural Student Support and Success (OMSSS) has a new name and a new location. 

The program, which aims to offer support to underrepresented groups, is now known as the Office of Student Diversity, Belonging and Equity and has moved to the newly-named Cultural Center, located at 81 Blake Street. The office used to reside on the second floor of the Student Center.

         According to Hunter Kirschner, Coordinator of LGBTQ Student Support, it was a months-long process between himself and four other people Dr. Dottie Morris, Kya Roumimper, Cindy Cheshire, andDeirdre Loftus. “We knew we wanted it to start with students because that’s who we serve,” said Kirschner.

         The name change was intended to reflect all of the work the office does, because students interpreted the name in ways that excluded identities, according to Kirschner. 

Kirschner explained the office strives to be accessible and welcoming for all students, and wanted to be more “explicit while also being accurate,” he said. 

         “Our goal is to put myself out of a job,” Kirschner said. “How are we treating one another and how are we embedding equity in the work that we do pragmatically, circularly, [and] structurally, so each Keene State student has the [same] opportunity…as well as feeling really good.”       

Dr. Dottie Morris, Associate Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion, said the name change was also decided to be more up to date with the term “multicultural,” which she said is confusing to some. 

“We will still continue to support students from underrepresented groups and want to do more with the general college as well,” said Morris. “We try to offer programs [and] discussion on issues of identity [and] issues of oppression.” 

         Senior Nat Wood, a student assistant at The Office of Student Diversity, Belonging, and Equity, said, “This office is incredibly important because it offers students that have diverse backgrounds to have a place where they can meet other people who have those same diverse backgrounds and feel less alone.”    

         First-year Uttham Manning, who was visiting the Cultural Center during the office’s open house on Friday, September 9 wanted to learn more about it. “It gives a voice to what cultures aren’t really talked about,” said Manning

         Junior Julie Donaruma said she comes to the Cultural Center at least a couple times a week. She noted that it offers a safe place and people she can talk to that she trusts. “[They] help [me] a lot because it’s someone I know I can trust and I know can help with resources, especially ones that aren’t necessarily needed by most people…It’s always great to have a place where you can find your own and find people to talk to,” Donaruma said.

         The Office of Student Diversity, Belonging, and Equity offers weekly and monthly programs located within the Cultural Center. 

Timothy Bruns can be contacted at

tbruns@kscequinox.com

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