After Cal Poly Pomona transitioned to virtual instruction on March 18, all six cultural centers temporarily closed to ensure the safety of the campus community by practicing social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to Tari Hunter, director of the Office of Student Life and Cultural Centers, the six cultural centers — the African American Student Center, Asian and Pacific Islander Center, César E. Chávez Center for Higher Education, Native American Student Center, Pride Center and Womxn’s Resource Center — will operate remotely to continue providing resources for students.
Some resources include virtual events through Zoom to keep students engaged with the community and access to cultural center coordinators and student justice leaders through Instagram.
Hunter explained that the coordinators for each center will also offer virtual drop-in times to communicate with students directly through Zoom.
“There have been varying levels of involvement with the programs, drop-in hours and community engagement events done remotely,” Hunter said. “We recognize that students are still adjusting to moving back home, doing virtual coursework or juggling other responsibilities at this time.”
Fourth-year kinesiology student Maddison Cannon works as a social justice leader for the African American Student Center and continues to act as a resource for students remotely. She described how the cultural center has been adapting well to the changes made from the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Our main goal is to give students a chance to think about something other than the pandemic and allow students to have the opportunity to be around people in our community that will help them uplift each other,” Cannon said.
With the spread of COVID-19, fourth-year civil engineering student Felipe Salinas explained his experience with his role as a social justice leader for the César E. Chávez Center. He said he spent this year focusing on outreach and creating a welcoming environment for the CPP community to engage more with the César E. Chávez Center.
With recent changes to virtual instruction, it has become even more crucial for the CPP community to stay connected. Since students are unable to physically visit the cultural centers, Salinas explained the importance of cultural centers reaching out to students and comforting them to let them know they are not alone during the pandemic.
“Even with everything going on in the world, we need to take things day by day,” Salinas said. “I know that everyone needs to adjust to events hosted by the cultural centers that we were looking forward to being canceled.”
To abide by the social distancing guidelines, the university announced the cancellation of all events expecting more than 100 participants on March 12, which affected several events planned by the six cultural centers. Nonetheless, some of the events hosted by the cultural centers showed flexibility by resuming their plans through their social media accounts, especially through Instagram.
However, the 2020 Cultural Graduation Celebrations event is canceled, the Office of Student Life and Cultural Centers announced on the CPP website. Annually, the Cultural Graduation Celebrations provide graduating students with an opportunity to embrace the culture and beliefs they value with others from their community while sharing their achievements of completing their college journeys.
As the cultural centers continue to engage with students online, third-year chemical engineering student Riddhima Kumar said the cultural centers added more excitement to her experience at CPP. Through the opportunities to meet new people and learn about different health topics in the programs hosted by the Womxn’s Resource Center, she felt closer to the campus community.
Kumar mentioned she visited the Womxn’s Resource Center at least twice a week and participated in the weekly events hosted on campus. She said the center provided her with a place to engage with other students, and take a breather from classes through drinking tea and completing coloring pages during her free time.
“Even though the cultural centers are closed on campus, I still feel connected to them through Instagram, especially the Womxn’s Resource Center,” Kumar said. “They bring some positivity and awareness to my feed which I really appreciate.”
For more information about the six cultural centers and access to their social media platforms, visit https://www.cpp.edu/ceis/ethnic-womens-studies/current-students/cultural-centers.shtml.
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