Establishment of Office of Multicultural Student Services sign now

In light of recent disturbing events dealing with the Center for Multicultural Programs (now called the Minority Access Program), we, minority alumni of IIT, would like to have some concerns addressed.

Let us first state that Irma Dobbins did not deserve the abrupt approach taken to eliminate her position and the department, considering the fact that Mrs. Dobbins has served IIT as an advocate, mentor, and advisor to minority students for 15 years. To many minority alumni, this department was a safe zone, a place to receive support from staff members who understood the challenges that underrepresented students encountered at a pre-dominantly white institution like IIT.

Since you are determined to create the new Office of Multicultural Student Services, we would like to take this opportunity to suggest some specific areas in which this department could best serve both current minority students and alumni. They are as follows:

Organization of OMSS. In order to better address the needs of (1) African-American, (2) Latin-American/Native American, (3) Women, and (4) Gay/Lesbian/Bisexual students, we recommend that the office have an Executive Director instead of a Director. Under the Executive Director there will be four Directors whose focus is one of the previously mentioned groups.

OMSS Services. As alum of IIT, we believe that the new OMSS should offer the following services to all minority students:

Mentoring. There is a strong need for minority students receive proper mentoring to help strengthen their support base, smooth their transition into the school, and to increase retention at IIT. OMSS should establish a program that would have a peer (upperclassman) and an alumni mentor for each minority student entering the school either as a freshman or transfer.

Tutoring. Although the school does have the Academic Resource Center (ARC) available for students, the tutoring component of the CMP/MAP office was recognized by many students as one of the best services offered. For many minority students, the quality of help received from CMP/MAP was unique. As a minority student, learning subjects such as calculus and physics from a minority upperclassman motivated many to do better. For the sake ones own identity development at a predominantly white institution, many need to know and develop motivating relationships with other minority students succeeding in an environment like IIT. The tutoring function should stay with OMSS.

Counseling and Advocacy. The staff of the OMSS should be capable of providing excellent academic and personal counseling and serve as an advocate for students for situations on campus.

Career Planning and Financial Aid. The office should provide information on scholarships and career development opportunities (i.e. internships, co-op, part-time or full-time positions) for students. The staff of the OMSS should work closely with the Financial Aid Office and the Career Development Center to exchange information and announce opportunities to all minority students.

Minority Alumni/Company Outreach. The Director of the OMSS should be directly responsible for the development and implementation of company outreach as well as a minority alumni association for the above mentioned mentor program, professional development workshop opportunities for students, and financial contributions to the department.

OMSS Department Budget. According to the position description for the OMSS Direction (Job Posting 7-05) on the IIT Human Resources website, the purpose of OMSS is, to purposefully address issues of leadership and diversity, encourage awareness and respect of all cultures, and to support and maintain the overall mission of IIT. In order to make this new department a success, providing quality services to the students as well as the IIT community, proper funding will be needed. A significant portion of the departments budget (if not the entire department budget) should come from IIT and not from outside grants or corporate donations.

Establishment of a Search Committee. We would like to have student and alumni representation on the search committee to have a voice in the selection of the new OMSS staff. In addition, we would like the staff to reflect the student groups that will be served in this new office.

In the interest of developing a stronger relationship between current minority students and alumni, we hope that you will strongly take our suggestions into consideration for the new OMSS department and staff.

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