Diversity Resource Center coordinator strives to meet student needs

The Diversity Resource Center is participating in more community events both on and off campus, and will be screening movies in the center to draw in new groups of students. The first film is “Hunt for the Wilderpeople” on Jan. 18 at noon. Photo by Fadi Shahin

In late October, Gaby Lunasco was hired on as the permanent Diversity Resource Center (DRC) Coordinator for MHCC after serving in an interim capacity for about a year. She has since been busy working in a position she described as her “dream job” in a previous story published by the Advocate, making some exciting changes.

Near the end of Fall Term, Lunasco worked with a world religions instructor to have the DRC used as a space to host a final project that was open to all students, she said. She plans on further developing the DRC by creating partnerships with different departments on campus and community organizations.

“The DRC serves a few purposes here on campus. It’s a physical space for students to come to, hang out in, (and) study,” Lunasco said. “There is also a prayer and meditation space available to students.”

It is easy for students to connect with Lunasco, as her office is located in the Student Union, in Room 1061. “One significant change that has happened (in the fall) is that my desk is no longer located in the DRC,” she noted. “While this takes me out of the day-to-day happenings, it allows for the space to truly be student-centered.”

Lunasco is committed to building important new relationships, she said.

“As both the DRC and Student Life plans develop and grow, we hope to continue growing community partnerships, as well as increase access to students, staff, (and) faculty across campus.” So far, this school year, the DRC has hosted a PFLAG (Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) event, which a faculty member brought to campus.

Lunasco also wants to screen movies in the space.

At noon on Thursday (Jan. 18), the offbeat film “Hunt for the Wilderpeople” will be screened in the DRC.

“My intention is really to try and highlight films that maybe not everyone sees. They’re not ‘pop culture’ kind of films,” Lunasco said. “Art and media, I think, are amazing ways for culture to grow and people to experience other things in a different way, on an emotional level.”

There’s also a focus on Mt. Hood programs and student participation.

“I’m hoping to partner again with Integrated Media, as well as further develop relationships with other departments” at MHCC, Lunasco said.

The DRC also will be part of a multi-campus Martin Luther King Jr. Day event on Monday (Jan. 15) coordinated by Campus Compact of Oregon, she said.

The MLK event will be held at Warner Pacific College in Southeast Portland. After a rally, volunteers will disperse to help different organizations. Some of the work will include some projects at a senior care center, and helping clean classrooms in a preschool.

As the DRC coordinator, Lunasco has an additional responsibility, she explained.

“One of the new roles for my permanent position was to begin overseeing SOC (Mt. Hood’s Student Organizations Council). A big portion of this school year will be devoted to learning this new role, supporting Student Life until we are fully staffed, and (the revision and) streamlining of processes in our area,” she said.

The Council is getting stronger, according to Lunasco. “We have some new clubs, and I think it (growth) will just continue.” Lunasco said the SOC’s responsibility is to maximize what’s available to students.

“Student life is really responsive to student needs, and student needs are continuously going to change, so it’s one of those things that will always be a work in progress,” she said.

Greg Leonov contributed reporting for this story.

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