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LETTER: UND: no move until planning complete

I am writing to persuade the Grand Forks community to ensure UND not turn campus centers into cubicles. The International Center, Lotus Meditation Center and Women's Center are to be closed by August 15th and relocated to the upper levels of the ...

I am writing to persuade the Grand Forks community to ensure UND not turn

campus centers into cubicles.  

The International Center, Lotus Meditation Center and Women's Center are to be closed by August 15th and relocated to the upper levels of the Union.  

I am an alumnus from UND (95') and UND Law (00').  

I am a U.S. Citizen who benefitted tremendously from the International Centre, Women's Center and Lotus Meditation Center during my years as an undergraduate and throughout law school.  

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Having grown up primarily in Denver, Colorado and having traveled internationally I was intimidated to attend UND my freshman year in the fall of 1991 because of its small town rural feel.  

Thankfully my roommate from Fargo became my best friend for life and I found the centers.  

At the International Center I felt like I belonged.  

Fluent in Spanish I quickly made friends and enjoyed cooking and dancing with my Latina friends and played soccer on the men's international club team, as there was no women's soccer yet at UND.  

Every Thursday night was culture night and I don't think I missed a one.

After my first year I moved as far south as I could in the United States and attended NMSU in Las Cruces, NM.  

For my third year, I returned to UND for a semester and then attended La Universidad Nacional in Costa Rica the fall semester on my own in an effort to establish an exchange program between UND and la UNA.  

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After graduating from UND I worked and traveled before returning for a juris doctorate degree.

All of my time at UND I associate with these centers.  

I met dear friends, including the fabulous director of the International Centre, Sharon Rezac Anderson, and felt connected to the world, not isolated from it.

My maternal grandmother, a resident of Grand Forks and of Norwegian heritage, came to the International Centre with me in order to hear and speak Norwegian with students and to get and give hugs.

My meditation practice started at the Lotus Meditation Center and continues with me today.  

UND is closing the centers due to budgetary constraints.

I recognize that UND has to live within its budget and assign priorities, yet UND's own master plan for the shuttering of the buildings states it is only to occur upon the completion of planning details and implementation of those plans.

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The value of these centers needs to be reassessed and if necessarily relocated, then do it right, with walls.  

Better communication and collaboration on the closure of the centers is sorely missing.

If UND valued that the centers are the basis of connection for all students, not just exchange students,  UND would have to reconsider how the move is being done.

If UND valued that the centers were a home for students to relax, play table tennis, plan soccer games and otherwise connect in a way that no other exists, it would be necessary to reconsider how to rebuild a dedicated space.

Much scholarly material has been written on how to recruit and retain particular populations.

As a student who came to UND for its Indian Studies program, I am familiar with the effort the UND Indian Center expended to build up its center as a home away from home for students.

I know some Indian students who were glad to have two places to be, the Indian Center or the International Centre, as both were havens of acceptance for all nations.

Last summer I attended an International Centre reunion in Grand Forks.  

I traveled from my home in Santa Fe, New Mexico, to meet with alumni at the International Centre.

Even then it had a different feel as we saw the enclosed offices and learned that culture nights were held at the Union, but at least it was a space where students could gather at any time, make some tea and mingle.

I was back in town last week, and the planned relocation for the centers is at the Union, but there is no safe and private location for the Women's Center and no plan to have a home for students to welcome and warm them to the UND community.  

Simply stated, a cubicle does not cut it.

Centers are safe havens that need to be on campus.

Kathryn S. Becker

Santa Fe, NM

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