UC Davis students and officials on Friday welcomed their new Student Community Center and celebrated a new mural painted on the building by one of the campus' emeritus faculty.
The 43,000-square-foot center, which opened in January, houses an extended-hours study room, meeting rooms, an open lounge and student resource centers such as the Cross Cultural Center, and the Women's Resource Center.
"Community is extremely important to us as a university," said University Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi at the event. "The diversity of student life is at the center of everything we do."
Students and officials celebrated a new 24-foot-by-9-foot mural that begins at the entrance and spreads into the building. The mural depicts two hands outstretched with students and other people in the background. One hand is meant to welcome in a new diverse set of students and the other sets them out into the world, said Professor Emeritus Malaquias Montoya, who painted the mural.
"I feel good to have been part of the culmination of this long process," Montoya said. "It was fun because it allowed me to do what I love to do."
The building cost $22 million, with $8 million coming from student fees approved in student referendums in 1999 and 2002. The remaining $14 million debt and operational costs are to be paid for with student fees and campus investment funds from the university.
Student fees rose $13 a quarter to pay for the project in 2004.
The building fulfilled a promise made to students that they would have a space to study and house their resource centers instead of having them scattered across the campus, said Griselda Castro, associate vice chancellor of student affairs and the leader of the project.
Abni Shah, an exercise biology major, said she has gone to the student center often since it opened to study, use the computer labs and visit various resource centers.
"I like having all of the different resource centers all in one place," she said. "It is definitely nice that if I have any questions then I can just come to one place rather than walking all over campus."
Four students respectively from the Cross Cultural Center; the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Resource Center; the Student Recruitment and Retention Center; and the Women's Resource Center said in an speech at the event that they were happy to have a new space for students, but complained that bureaucracy and non-student leadership of the building has increased since it opened.
"We feel that the autonomy of our student spaces is shrinking," said Louis Infante, of the Student Recruitment and Retention Center. "We firmly reject the co-optation of our student-based spaces as superficial diversity window dressings for the university."
Trang Tran, from the Cross Cultural Center, said the groups are also concerned that the university does not prioritize their funding.
Davis Chancellor Katehi said she could not comment on the students complaints of increased bureaucracy at the center, but said she understood their concerns about funding.
"When there are cuts they are some of the first groups to feel the impact,"Katehi said. "So I agree with them."