Blugold Beginnings and OMA to merge

Olga Diaz announces changes to programs amongst staff turnover

More stories from Elliot Adams

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May 11, 2022
OMA+provides+programs+and+services+that+aid+and+enhance+the+collegiate+experience%2C+particularly+for+students+of+color%2C+helping+them+excel+both+individually+and+collectively.

Photo by Emma Steiler

OMA provides programs and services that aid and enhance the collegiate experience, particularly for students of color, helping them excel both individually and collectively.

In a series of open house meetings last week, Olga Diaz, vice chancellor for equity, diversity and inclusivity and student affairs, announced that the Office of Multicultural Affairs and Blugold Beginnings will be merged. 

Diaz said the urgency of the merge is due to the number of staff that have left OMA and Blugold Beginnings. 

According to Diaz, the decision to merge the departments stemmed from the similarities between Blugold Beginnings and OMA. 

“Both programs have an outreach component, both programs do student of color engagement and both programs have student interns,” Diaz said. 

The goal of the merge is to get a sense of “alignment,” Diaz said. One of the biggest changes that students will see this semester is lost office space for student cultural associations in OMA. 

“As a team, we’re going to need the offices in this space,” Diaz said. “We’re going to need those offices for employees to support students of color.”

According to Diaz, the new structure of the department will feature one director, an assistant director, a university services programs associate, five coordinators, a graduate assistant and 12 student interns. There are currently only five full-time employees in the organization now. 

In the two-hour-long open house meeting on Friday, Feb. 18 in the OMA offices located in Centennial Hall, several students raised concerns. One concern voiced was how the new organization will hire diverse coordinators that will be able to serve students of color. 

One student asked Diaz if she “personally feels that white staff can do as effective a job as a person of color, within a space for people of color.” 

In response to the students’ concern, Rochelle Hoffman, interim director of the merged organization and current assistant director of Blugold Beginnings, said that the goal in hiring for coordinators is diversity, however, the goal for coordinators is to “build relationships with students” regardless of identity. 

Diaz said she currently has a student intern working on a list of historically black colleges and their hiring websites so that job postings can reach a more diverse set of candidates.

Despite searching for coordinators that reflect the needs of students of color, Diaz said, “I don’t want you to think I’m not trying, but I’m not sure what results I’m going to get.”

In her presentation, Diaz also said former employees Demetrius Smith, who was director of Blugold Beginnings, and Dang Yang, who was director of OMA, were in full support of the merge. 

“We got to go now, right? The stuff I showed you earlier, logistically, was planned with the support and help of the whole team,” Diaz said. “As they’ve left, I’m actually using those same plans to move forward in what feels like a faster pace.”

Adams can be reached at [email protected].