Latino students fight for space

Student delegates of the Office of Latino Student Affairs (LSA) met with Dean of Students Jeffrey Waple on Sept. 13 to discuss obtaining a bigger lounge space with more equipment for Hispanic students.

In the meeting, sophomore sociology major Mayra Guzman and sophomore electronic media and broadcasting major Arturo Minera, explained to Waple the needs of the LSA office. Both students requested for LSA to obtain the room 324 in the Student Union.

“I understand everyone’s need for space. There are other organizations who have also asked for space. They have asked me for storage space, meeting room space, dining space,” Waple said. “There is just not enough space.”

Waple denied the request, but said his office is planning on changing SU 324 to make it useful for other offices and organizations. Waple said they will put more sitting space and computers in the area outside the LSA lounge. The date for when his office will change the Student Union room is not determined yet.
Minera said, “The meeting was a success, but it was only the first step.”

According to Guzman, more than 16 students visit the lounge daily. “The Latino lounge is too small,” Guzman said. “We need more space and more equipment.”

The Latino lounge, located in SU 325, currently measures 12 ft. by 9 ft., while the African American-Affairs lounge, located also in SU 309, measures 15 ft. by 11 ft.

Guzman said that she noticed the problem her freshman year when she got involved with the LSA. “It was during the Latino orientation when Maylen Arroyo gave me the idea,” Guzman said. “I needed to be a leader.”
Arroyo was the winner of NKU’s Outstanding Student in Business Administration during the 2009-2010 academic year.

“It is nice being in a place where there are nice people,” said Francisco Cornejo, a freshman pre-engineering major. He uses the lounge daily.

Leo Calderon, director of the LSA office, said, “Yes, it is time to expand the lounge. The Hispanic students gather there because they have something in common. It is a space where they share concerns, thoughts and goals”

The LSA office currently serves more than 300 Hispanic students. According to the Office of Institutional Research, the Hispanic retention rate among Hispanic NKU students is 73.5 percent.

NKU established the LSA office a decade ago, with 57 Hispanic students and the mission of creating a unique office that would help nonwhite students. Prior to the construction of the Student Union, LSA shared rooms with the African-American affairs office in the University Center.

“It doesn’t surprise me the lounge can’t handle the amount of students,” Calderon said. “There has been a tremendous increase of student enrollment and student participation.”

Calderon confirmed that the dean of students is aware of the lounge situation, but Waple hasn’t acted yet.
“I don’t know about the lounge because I didn’t have anything to do with it,” said Steve Meier, associate to the dean of students. “I participated in the planning process of the Student Union. I was more concerned about the space for the meeting room, storage space and the ballroom.”

A bigger lounge with more computers and printers will help with students’ ability to do their homework while hanging out with friends.

“The retention rate will improve if students come to a prepared lounge,” Guzman said. “Students will be involved in school and with the LSA office, so they will have enough support to keep with their classes.”