Downsizing Dustup

Students protest administrative move
January 31, 2010

Administration plans to merge the International House and the Center for Multicultural Affairs have been put on hold following an outcry from students, faculty and staff members, and alumni.

In November, the student-affairs office announced that the two campus entities would combine to form the Global Cultures Center. Administrators intended the merger to increase the interaction between American and international students, and cited dovetailing missions and an overlap in staff expertise as further justification.

Within days, students railed against perceived opacity in the process and protested the firing of two staff members from the multicultural center, director Julian Sanchez and staff specialist Juanita Johnson.

Those opposed to the merger argued that the two campus entities were too distinct to be joined, that their abilities to serve students would be diminished, and that the move was a misunderstanding of the role of people of color on campus. Students threatened rallies decrying the decision. They were, for the most part, headed off by the administration's decision to delay the merger.

Students will now play an integral part on a task force created to examine how to meet the needs of minority and international students at Duke.