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Mt. Hood Community College Unveils Planned Equity Center posted on 08/31/2023
By Mt. Hood Community College For The Mountain Times Mt. Hood Community College’s (MHCC) student basic needs team recently announced plans for a new equity center, designed to meet the needs of students who are looking for a place to relax, study, meet, eat, and access resources. The equity center will be built in the former bookstore. The project is a result of several key occurrences, including the COVID-19 pandemic, which left many students in a state of food and housing insecurity and revealed a need for more student resources. According to the MHCC Student Basic Needs team, the equity center will provide a range of resources and support to students. It will be a multi-faceted space, featuring the food pantry, housing support, and other resources such as laptops and hotspots. The center will offer a “living room” feel, making it a comfortable place for students to hang out, study, and socialize. The location of the equity center has been carefully chosen to ensure it is easily accessible to students. It is centrally-located directly under the student hub, making it easy for students to find and access the resources they need. The new space is also designed to reduce barriers and stigma for students seeking assistance for food and housing. “The equity center expands on the existing student spaces, welcoming children and families, while also providing a place to eat and build community,” Associate Vice President of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Traci Simmons said. “We also want this center to be a centralized location where all of the resources available to students are within reach.” To ensure the equity center is designed with students in mind, MHCC created a student basic needs team with members from various departments. The team is focused on creating a space that is both human-centered and equity-centered, considering the feedback and suggestions from students. “It’s really hard to strive for success when you don’t know where you’re going to sleep at night and it’s also really hard to focus when you are hungry or when you don’t have access to the information you need,” MHCC student Rheyna Tehrar said, “So I think that it’s really great that the college is providing a space where people can figure out what they need to be safe and also be able to have access to a space where they feel welcome and they can know that whatever they’re needing in that moment is going to be accepted and not considered an inconvenience by anyone.” The project was awarded $1.2 million from various funding sources including $600,000 from the American Rescue Plan Act, $423,600 in state capital construction funds, and $199,000 from the Mt. Hood Community College Foundation. Several Oregon lawmakers, including Rep. Ricki Ruiz, Sen. Chris Gorsek, former Rep. Anna Williams, and former Rep. Jeff Reardon were instrumental in securing the funding for this project. The college has contracted Opsis Architecture for the project and the Equity Center is tentatively set to open by the end of 2023, barring any delays due to supply chain issues. The Equity Center is set to be a welcome addition to the MHCC campus, providing a warm, inviting space for students to study, relax, and access resources. With a focus on meeting the needs of the student community, the Equity Center is a testament to MHCC’s commitment to creating an inclusive and supportive campus environment.



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