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Saturday, May 08, 2021

Town Hall meeting created to “Intervene” on MCDA’s renovation plans

UF administrators, concerned students and Gainesville city commissioners will come together today to stage an “intervention.”

After controversy in June and July, UF’s Multicultural and Diversity Affairs announced that among renovation plans, the Institute of Black Culture and the Institute of Hispanic-Latino Cultures — known as La Casita — will remain two separate buildings.

Earlier in the month, members of the IBC and La Casita pushed back against MCDA plans to merge the two institutes into one “U”-shaped building. Students from both groups argued that joining the buildings would dishonor the entirely separate cultures and histories, according to Alligator archives.

Although the MCDA’s decision to keep the buildings separate was a victory for many students involved, some believe the department sidestepped student opinions in creating new project teams to oversee the upcoming renovations.

Christopher Wilde, a UF microbiology and cell science senior and former ambassador for La Casita, said he’s attending the event to express his concerns regarding the MCDA’s lack of transparency.

“There was no need to create a new project team,” the 21-year-old said. “They just wanted to get rid of the employment committee who were outspoken or who did not go with the flow.”

According to the event’s Facebook page, the “intervention” will take place today from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. at 200 E. University Ave. Some of the notable speakers attending include City Commissioner Charles Goston, City Commissioner David Arreola, City Commissioner Harvey Budd and Kim Pace, the assistant vice president of Student Affairs.

“I’m going to express (today) that it’s not transparent … the way that MCDA created these project teams,” Wilde said. “They just reached out to people individually who happen to be elected student officials, they didn’t have a committee that was acceptable to the majority of the students.”

According to the event’s page, topics that will be discussed include things like the “lack of transparency and conversation about the project and the real issues the students want to discuss.”

MCDA assistant director PJ Jones said she won’t be attending today’s “intervention.”

“My schedule is jam-packed,” Jones said. “With my regular work schedule I have other meetings I need to attend.”

Will Atkins, the executive director of the MCDA, could not immediately be reached for comment.

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