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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

OIIL adjusts to its new space

<e of Intercultural & International Life (OIIL) promotes diversity and inclusion on campus. Students of color and international students are the main foci for the office’s work, but they are open to other students as well. Recently, the OIIL office relocated to Upper Sayles. Prior to that, the office was situated in Laird’s basement for two years. Before Laird, the office was located in the basement of Scoville. OIIL’s shift from Laird to Sayles was part of Facilities’ strategic plan for space utilization on campus. The plan prioritized OIIL becoming more accessible and having an “open space.” In fact, Michael Hodges, assistant director of OIIL, said, “Alums and students helped push for OIIL to be in a better space. Even the Board of Trustees and Dean of Students were very influential for OIIL to achieve the new space.”

Location, curiosity and administration were key factors behind increasing awareness of OIIL and its popularity. Sayles is a prime office location on campus as it already has a café, bookstore and pool tables that serve as entertainment and relaxation for students. With so much to offer, it is no surprise that Sayles is always bustling with people. Hodges said, “The longer we are in [Sayles], the more people will know. But, it will take time.” Secondly, the students’ curiosity often leads them to walk or stop by the office to learn about the services OIIL provides. Lastly, reiteration by administration of OIIL as a student-centered office has slowly popularized the office. Both Hodges and Tresa Xavier ’20 (an OIIL mentor for the 2017-18 academic year) are delighted with the new space and feel OIIL has now become more accessible and visible for students.

There are notable differences between the Sayles and Laird office. The Sayles office is easier for students to find than Laird basement. Moreover, Sayles is much more lively and upbeat than the old office. On the subject of layout, Hodges said, “While room sizes are slightly smaller in Sayles, there are the same number of office cabins. [However], we chose to have a conference room instead of a closed off lounge space. The conference room will be an area for staff meetings and study room.” Similarly, Xavier said, “The old office was more spacious but style and layout of the new office is modern and gorgeous.” Interestingly, one thing Hodges misses about the old office is sharing the same space with another department. It expanded his interactions with students as he saw students other than those directly involved with OIIL. Now, the space in Upper Sayles is solely reserved for OIIL.

Overall, Hodges and Xavier are pleased and optimistic that the new space will gradually attract people. While some people may describe the new office as an upgrade, Hodges said, “I wouldn’t call this an upgrade. I would say this is the next step for OIIL’s progression. We are grateful for the space occupied earlier. We look forward to being in the [new] space now.”

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