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Karen Roth, COCC Diversity Coordinator, is a champion for the promotion of tolerance

Irene Cooper

The Broadside

With its bold sculpture and sleek design, the Campus Center has become the heart of Central Oregon Community College. Upstairs in Room 224, the bright, welcoming Multicultural Center keeps the beat.

“It is a space within a program,” said Karen Roth, Diversity Coordinator for COCC since January 2008. The room itself provides a safe and respectful place for students to meet, gather and interact. The Diversity program as a whole embraces a wide scope of goals directed at community and campus interaction.

Karen Roth, the Diversity Coordinator for COCC, was a teacher at OSU-Cascades before her current position.

“We want to provide educational opportunities for the entire campus to learn about…all the ways we are different,” said Roth, “and gather lots of folks together to talk about issues that help foster respect.”

Roth came to her current position after teaching at OSU-Cascades, and before that, at the University of California at Davis. Gordon Price, now director of Student Life, held the job previously.

“We need to push forward” on the promotion of diversity, tolerance, inclusion and understanding, said Price. “It needs a champion, and that’s Karen Roth.”

“Karen brings a world of experience, passion and dedication [to the position], and a sense of urgency, too,” said Price.

Roth feels that events such as guest speakers and workshops provide opportunities to support and supplement student learning. She encourages faculty to think about offering extra credit for attendance at lectures/events that might pertain to coursework.

The Multicultural Center is the meeting place for several groups on campus, including the Latino, Native American and African American clubs, as well as the Gay Straight Alliance. The Center offers a resource library, and hosts movie nights, music events and discussion groups all aimed at promoting a climate of universal inclusion.

This year, campus and community attendance for the series of films and speaking events known as the King Gandhi Chavez Season of NonViolence doubled from last year.

“Not just students attend events,” said Roth. “COCC is very much a community entity with lots of programs emanating from here.”

“Community learning is vital,” added Roth.

The Multicultural Center partnered with the Native American Program, Saving Grace of Bend and the OSU-Cascades Collective to sponsor events in April and May focusing on Sexual Assault Awareness Month. “Walking the Walk: A Sexual Violence Awareness Exercise” sponsored by Saving Grace will happen May 5 from noon to 1:30 P.M. at the Multicultural Center, and the University of Oregon’s Sexual Wellness Advocacy Team, or SWAT, will conduct an “interactive workshop” entitled “Consent Is Sexy” at Willie Hall May 6 from 4-6 P.M.

At the heart of COCC, the Multicultural Center is a great place to feel the pulse of our community.

You may contact Irene Cooper at icooper@cocc.edu

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