Save the PAC and Rainbow Rooms in Robinson Hall

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Background:

This term, the Office of Student Life, in conjunction with the Office of Pluralism and Leadership (OPAL), has decided to move the Pan-Asian Community (PAC) and Rainbow rooms from Robinson Hall, a place on central campus, to the physical margins of Dartmouth. The Rainbow Room will be relegated to the Triangle House, a residential space, and the PAC room will be moved to a difficult-to-find, unlabeled space in 6 Choate Rd.

Why these spaces are important:

Robinson Hall houses a myriad of student spaces: from activity-based community, like the DOC, Ski team, the Dartmouth, the radio, Dartmouth Forensic Union, to affinity-base community, like the Native American lounge, PAC room, and Rainbow Room. As a student-centered space, Robinson Hall creates a unique opportunity for these affinity communities to practice intersectional solidarity and allyship, instead of having siloed affinity spaces spread across campus.

Currently, the PAC Room is used as a meeting room for Pan-Asian student organizations and as a study and social space for the larger Pan-Asian community. The Rainbow Room has likewise been used by Spectra, the PRIDE committee, and LGBTQ+ students. Both rooms have also historically been used for organizing, rendez-vous, community-building, and other invisibilized purposes. They both function as important symbols and spaces for these communities.

Effect of this relocation:

The PAC and Rainbow Rooms are 24-hour community safe spaces. However, with these new changes, spaces for these affinity groups will be restricted to a limited number of open hours per day. The new PAC room will only be open when a student worker can be present, while non-resident students will only be able to access the designated space in Triangle House during limited hours.

In addition to limited access, the relocation of a public affinity space to a vulnerable residential space will create safety issues. Historically, even with limited card access, LGBTQIA+ folk living in the Triangle House have been victims of targeted violence and harassment. Due to safety concerns, it would be impossible to both open the Triangle House to all of campus and maintain the safety of its residents. It is important to have more than one LGBTQIA+ specific space, especially given the two very different purposes: residential and public.

Furthermore, Robinson Hall, along with Collis and the Class of ‘53 Commons, was also historically designed for student use only, according to the 2000 Student Life Master Plan Report. To have staff offices in Robinson Hall reduces the inherently student-centered character of this building.

Rationale behind relocation:

The Office of Student Life, which governs both Robinson Hall and the Collis Student Center, has not communicated any definitive plans for how these spaces would then be used. The lack of concrete plans and transparency points to the deprioritization of these two rooms over other rooms in Robinson Hall, a move that reflects patterns of oppression and displacement in broader Pan-Asian and LGBTQ+ communities. Robinson Hall also houses multiple unspecified general meeting rooms that are not under threat of administrative invasion. While we in no way advocate that any of these spaces be removed, the fact that the unspecified meeting rooms were not first considered in the administrative reshuffling reflects anti-Asian and anti-LGBTQ+ undertones in the prioritization of the Office of Student Life and OPAL.

From our meetings with administration, it is our understanding that the move of OPAL from the former Center for Student and Gender Engagement in the Choates to Collis required a bargain of these two rooms to be replaced with staff offices. Student life, especially for marginalized students, should not be a simple bargaining chip for distributing space. They also cite reasons of underuse of the rooms. While these rooms have experienced ebbs and flows in usage over the years, they are still used by marginalized and vulnerable students at any given point nonetheless. These rooms also contain worn down furniture that can deter students from using the room, a situation that the administration can address through renovation. If the administration is looking for spaces to accommodate larger communities, would it not be wise to add another room rather than take one away? Once again, we would like to emphasize that both the pan-Asian and the LGBTQIA+ communities have just as much a right to occupy a 24-hour space on central campus.

In retaliation against this proposed move, we demand:

1. the Office of Student Life to immediately cancel any plans of displacing the PAC and Rainbow Rooms.
2. the Office of Student Life to guarantee that the PAC and Rainbow Rooms will be permanently located in Robinson Hall and never removed from its location.
3. the Office of Student Life to conduct student-advised renovations for current rooms; for example, replacement of old and broken furniture and the installation of insulated windows.
4. the Office of Student Life to project an expansion of spaces for marginalized communities in the future in central locations on campus

With these points in mind, we see it essential to keep both of these rooms for both practical, symbolic and safety reasons. We call on you to sign this petition to fight for space for marginalized students at Dartmouth.

 



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