CDI, Gephardt, OISS move office spaces

Noah Slaughter | Staff Reporter

The Center for Diversity and Inclusion, the Gephardt Institute for Civic and Community Engagement and the Office for International Students and Scholars relocated their office spaces over summer break. The offices moved to better serve students, meet the needs of each office and to provide additional space for the offices’ growth.

The Center for Diversity and Inclusion (CDI) moved from the third floor of the Danforth University Center (DUC) to the first floor, where the Gephardt Institute for Civic and Community Engagement was formerly located. Gephardt is now across Forsyth Boulevard in Stix House and the Office for International Students and Scholars (OISS) left Stix House for the third floor DUC suite previously taken by the CDI.

The new space will give the CDI room to introduce the Office of Ethical, Spiritual and Religious Life and expand its internship program. Gephardt will also have a larger area in Stix House than it previously had in the DUC.

Emelyn dela Pena, former Associate Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs and Dean of the CDI, hopes that putting the CDI in its new central location on the first floor of the DUC by Tisch Commons will bring greater attention to the CDI’s work and draw students into the office.

“I’m hoping that by moving to the first floor, that people will just happen upon this space, that we will be visible to folks and feel like a space that everyone can just come in and sit down and hang out, even if it wasn’t your destination to begin with, but because you happen to be in the DUC, that you poke your head in and say hello,” dela Pena said.

Additionally, OISS expects to benefit by being closer to Campus Life and other offices located in the DUC, rather than being across the street. Instead of just functioning as an office, they hope to use their new space to give international students a place of their own.

“It’s the opportunity to collaborate, the ability to have easier access to space and to be more on the center of campus,” Executive Director of the OISS Kathy Steiner-Lang said. “Since students don’t have to cross the street to get to our office, we expect that people might just drop in more than in the past.”

According to dela Pena, discussions about changing office spaces took place over the past couple of years, but came to fruition in the spring when the English Language Program moved out of Stix House.

The space’s availability coincided with the CDI’s need for more room for the Office of Ethical, Spiritual and Religious Life and long-term discussions about Gephardt wanting to expand. The decision to move was made at the end of last school year, giving the offices a few months over the summer to change spaces.

According to dela Pena and Joy Hoffman, interim Dean of the CDI, some students who frequent the CDI were concerned about losing a beloved space on the third floor. Hoffman hopes to recreate a similar environment and feel in the CDI’s new area on the first floor to address those worries.

“A space or location is not what makes the CDI the CDI,” Hoffman said. “The students make the CDI the CDI. The community makes the CDI the CDI. We really want students to come in, claim it as their own and say, ‘This is our new space, but our community remains the same.’”

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