Campus celebrates opening of new inclusive spaces in library


Helen Harlan

Paul Meinz, a researcher for the Office of Equity, Institutional Effectiveness and Innovation, in the new campus meditation space on Thursday. The space is now located in the library and provides a space for prayer and mindfulness practices.

The campus library celebrated a grand opening of inclusive new spaces on Thursday.
The festivities began at the Cosumnes River College Quad where Vice President of Institutional Equity Dr. Claire Oliveros, gave a speech encouraging students to embrace the new layout.
“Cultural centers have a history of being safe havens for Black and Latinx and Asian and Native American students and LGBTQ students because of the day-to-day microaggression around spaces out here,” Oliveros said. “This will continue to be a safe haven. We will not get lost in the food, fashion and fun of diversity.”
HSI/MI CASA Director Gladis Sanchez said she sees the new locations in the library as a holistic approach to intentional student support and resources.
“(This is) a space where people can come in, not just students,” Sanchez said. “It’s a space for faculty, staff, students, everybody, the whole entire community, to be able to come in and feel validated, identified, represented.”
One such space is a small and private room on the second floor now called the “Mediation Space.”
Oscar Mendoza Plascencia, interim director for Student Equity and Engagement, said the need for such a mindful room came from a need that has existed for many years.
“Many students needed a space to quietly either pray or meditate. Sometimes some of our students that needed to pray were doing it in the bathrooms or even underneath the staircases,” said Mendoza Plascencia. “The space came from that need.”
The opening marked over two years of setbacks due to COVID-19. The shuffling of many student services to and from the new College Center to the library became tedious for many staff and faculty during this time.
“We actually had to bring people, departments in, one person at a time to pack their desks, leave their boxes and have the evening custodians come in and move the boxes to their new location,” Director of Administrative Services Christopher Raines said.
Raines said the new space was a triumphant group effort over tedious times and hopes that it provides students with “a place to come and feel comfortable and hang out and study and do what they need to do.”
Sanchez echoed Raines’s sentiment and said, “This is long overdue. I am happy to be a part of this history since this is the first time we’ve done this.”
In the final words of her speech, Oliveros shared a quote from American author and social activist Bell Hooks: “One of the most vital ways we sustain ourselves is by building communities of resistance where we know that we are not alone.”
The library building now houses spaces for Apida H.A.W.K.S, Dream Center, Library Services, MI CASA, NAHER, Pride Center, Trio SSS SOAR/STEM, Black Student Success Center, Trio Upward Bound, Veterans Resource Center, Student Life and Leadership Center, and Center for Inclusion and Belonging.