‘It’s the marginalization of people’: Students protest NAIS program move

Neelam Bohra

Colorful tapestries, photographs and event posters adorn the walls of the Native American and Indigenous Studies program. Soon, they will be taken down and moved, as the College of Liberal Arts plans to relocate the program’s office from Patton Hall. This has led some students to protest.

The College of Liberal Arts has not decided where they will move the program. But David Oschner, the director of public affairs for the College of Liberal Arts, said more than 20 of their units have moved to new locations in the past five years to adjust for space.

“The college is still evaluating new locations for the program,” Oschner said. “The relocation of units is something that occurs on a regular basis to accommodate expansion within our college. This process continues as we rebalance space needs and work to accommodate several new programs and adjust to changes in program size.”

Students who heard the program may be moved to Bellmont Hall, inside of Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium, tried to petition against the move. However, Oschner said this was just a rumor.

“I have no idea where the rumor came from,” Oschner said. “We’ve had several units move into and out of Bellmont, some temporarily while other space was made ready.”

Because students said a relocation would inconvenience students in the program, some met with Randy Diehl, the dean of the College of Liberal Arts, last Friday, Oct. 12.

“As a fellow person of color, if it matters to them, it matters to me,” corporate communication freshman Shawntale Woodland said. “If the new location is too far away, the liberal arts college is saying they’re giving the space to something that matters more, and it doesn’t matter if the Native American students have to travel a little bit farther.”

Public relations sophomore CJ Eaton echoed this sentiment.

“It’s the marginalization of people,” Eaton said of the program’s possible move. “It’s taking away identity in a public white institution where they don’t really have anything to represent themselves. People have already … acclimated to the office being there, so why does it need to be moved at all?”

When asked about the relocation, Diehl did not comment on whether the program would move to Bellmont Hall.

“We are currently exploring other options,” Diehl said.