November 22, 2019
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Story tips, concerns, questions?

Photo by Nova Rico-Blanco

By Robert Rios and Dayzsha Lino

Student confidentiality breached. No doors for privacy.  Items stolen. Shoddy furniture.

Greater networking. Shared resources. Potential for more collaboration and partnerships.

Ten weeks into its first full semester, the new Student Success Hub on the third and fourth floors of the north library certainly elicits strong opinions. The hub, described by one worker as a hybrid between the no-wall or low-wall open office concept that theoretically spurs collaboration, and a “cubicle farm,” houses about 15 organizations serving mainly students. Most were relocated to the library beginning last May after the demolition of the Small College Complex.

So many student organizations in such close proximity has positives and negatives.

“I think it is successful in the ways of being able to collaborate and partner with different departments on this floor,” said Morgan Kirk, Basic Needs Coordinator. “Based off of what we do in the Basic Needs Program …if I’m working with those students or connecting them with different departments on this floor, it makes it so much easier to refer them.”

However, Megan Adams, the director of the Women’s Resource Center, said the hub’s layout, specifically no doors and low walls, works against organizations that deal with students having “sensitive issues,” or “marginalized populations,” because getting the privacy needed to have open, frank discussions to “provide them the kind of services and support that they need is incredibly difficult.”

Difficult and maybe even a violation of their student rights.

“I feel like we are jeopardizing students’ privacy. We are not protecting student’s confidentiality,” said Jorge Padilla, an academic adviser for the Educational Opportunity Program. “In order for us to do our jobs appropriately, we need walls and doors [for private interactions with students] and that’s not being met which is unfair to the students. I have several students hold their tears in until the end of the session and leave in tears. It’s heartbreaking.”

Representatives of organizations that work with marginalized students, such as the homeless or food insecure, are also uncomfortable with having conversations possibly overheard, as it might mean students are reticent to share or even reach out in the first place.

Cubicles without doors or ceilings do not lend themselves to confidential
conversations in the Student Success Hub. Photo by Nova Rico-Blanco

“I do a lot of advocacy work with my students, so if I have to call the county, meaning a social worker, I don’t want to loudly say some information,” said Carolyn Tinoco, CalFresh Food Coordinator. For example, providing a case number or a student social security number over the phone that was overhead could also jeopardize student privacy.

Other workers mentioned missing items from desks, such as stuffed animals and Comic-Con figurines, drawers that either have no keys or keys that are so cheap they routinely bend when locking,  and underutilized space such as a student lounge on the fourth floor that has outlets in the floor but nothing else.

Photo by Nova Rico-Blanco

The WRC’s Center Adams, however, reminds everyone that nothing is set in stone.

 “It’s been a difficult transition moving over to the Student Success Hub, and there have been a lot of challenges including lost space and privacy,” she said.  “But I’m excited that the administration is taking it seriously and working with consultants and stakeholders to identify short term and long term solutions.”

Violeta Rocha contributed to this story

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