Construction on El Centro continues, despite its original expected opening by winter break.
El Centro is set to open fully by Mar. 1, according to a worker who cited Lupe Garcia, director of Student Academic Support Services.
The historic building serves as a communal hub for a variety of students to study, socialize, and be a part of organizations that support and organize on behalf of marginalized groups.
The building is now earthquake-proof. Resources such as Counseling and Psychological Services, Early Academic Opportunity Program, and the Educational Opportunity Program are accessible on the first floor, according to Students for Justice of Palestine member Shahryar Mooraj, who has also negotiated with administration on building plans. A representative from EOP will be on call while the building is open.
“It’s been working with them to bring the building up to a level of structural safety and strength, but also bringing in more administrative resources for students, especially catering to students of color and low income students who historically don’t receive as much support,” said Mooraj, a fourth year physics and mathematical sciences major.
Currently, panels of colorful traditional Chicano/Latino art are being installed in the El Congreso building on the ground floor. Monitors have yet to be attached to the new wiring inserted in the walls.
In January of 2017, students were given a vacate notice due to the building not being up to standards, initially stirring frustration and distrust among students.
Mooraj said students and even alumni who felt wronged by the administration’s treatment of the students occupying El Centro came together to ensure the space served the community it housed. The students held meetings with the administration about once a week to discuss the project, he said.
After several meetings between students and administration, students pushed for the administration to finish repairs over the summer so students could continue using the space. Now, only the ground floor building remains to be finished.
“When we got into it, it was kind of clear that, at least in those decades, the school had very much sort of mismanaged El Centro,” Mooraj said. “The negotiations from there was working to see how the university was going to take responsibility for this, how are they going to fix things.”
According to the construction worker working on El Centro, a meeting with the project directors and administration on the status of the building is to be held next Tuesday.
The Bottom Line has not received comment from administration, as of press time.