A Letter to the CMA Community


by Li-Chen Chin

To the CMA community,

As the Bryan Center transformation began, all of us in the Center for Multicultural Affairs were excited about our area getting a face-lift, which will include an expansion of meeting space for student organizations. We anticipated that we might have to vacate the premises at some point for a short period of time. However, we were very surprised when recently we were told that the CMA staff had to vacate from December 2012 to April 2013. There were and continued to be many questions.  What are we going to do during this extended period of time? How will our work be affected next semester? Will the students who hang out, study, or seek refuge in our Center find another place to go?

The Chinese word for crisis—危机—literally means danger and opportunity.  The Center for Multicultural Affairs has been in the Bryan Center for a decade.  While adjusting to the idea that we will not have a “center” for much of the spring semester, we had to move beyond danger to opportunity. Our main concerns were twofold: how could we continue to engage our students and student groups?  Could our unexpected move be an opportunity to improve our programs and services?  

As we relinquish our traditional presence in the Bryan Center for the short term, we decided to expand our operation’s footprint and place an office on each campus, West, Central and East. Linda Capers will remain on West and move to 104 West Union near the Old Trinity Room, adjacent to a large open space for gathering with comfortable couches and adjacent meeting areas available to be reserved. Carla Rodriguez will relocate to the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life, which itself is relocating during the BC renovates, at the corner of Anderson and Campus Drive on Central Campus, in the house formerly occupied by the International House.  Sean Novak will be on East Campus in the Duke Student Wellness Center in the garden level of Crowell Building, another space that offers gathering spaces and meeting rooms. Byron Turner, our staff assistant, and I will remain in the new International House on Central. Our goals are to be easily accessible to students and to collaborate closely with other Student Affairs units. All offices will offer comfortable hang-out space and an open invitation to visit the new locations for any service you received at the BC location.

Please remember that this is only a temporary move while our permanent space undergoes great improvements that will not only benefit CMA students, but the interactions between many communities in new and open spaces throughout the BC.

I believe in the importance of investment in facilities upgrades to meet emerging needs and growth. I don’t think that a brief hiatus will adversely affect the work of the staff, and in fact am excited to see what we as a community will discover from our new experiences.  The Center for Multicultural Affairs’ main success is built upon our relationships with individual students and their organizations. I believe the opportunities far outweigh the dangers presented by this short hiatus.

Our last day in the Bryan Center will be Wednesday, December 5.  We are excited about all the programming and outreach possibilities that lie ahead.  We hope that in the spring semester you will stop by each of our offices, give us feedbacks, and stay involved.  We look forward to seeing and hearing from you, and most importantly, welcoming you to the renovated Center for Multicultural Affairs in the Bryan Center in May 2013.

Li-Chen Chin
Director of Intercultural Initiatives