May 2, 2013

Hiring of Residence Hall Director Sparks Outrage Among Students

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Members of the Latino community expressed discontent at an event Thursday over the way in which a new Residential Hall Director of the Latino Living Center was hired, saying they feel students did not have a chance to give input in the process.

Angel Keen, previously the RHD for the Multicultural Living Learning Unit, was appointed RHD of the LLC without any other applicants or student input involved in the process, according to Marti Dense, Latino Studies Program Director.

According to Residential Programs Assistant Director Kristyn Bochniak, Keen’s hire was conducted in the way it was due to concerns about timing and a lack of external candidates for the position.

Still, Joe Burke, Director of Residential Programs, said he invited students to speak with him in a phone conversation during finals week about concerns over the way it was conducted. Burke was not at Thursday’s event for medical reasons, though several students expressed a desire to present him with their concerns. Additionally, at the Meet and Greet, which was hosted to allow students to meet Keen, Keen voiced her passion for the RHD position.

“For me, the first semester is going to be a learning opportunity to see what students have done for the community. … I’m very willing to learn,” Keen said. “I don’t want to step in and change what [members of the Latino community] have. I want to listen and possibly help implement what the students envision for the 2013-14 academic year.”

Some students at the Meet and Greet, however, said they were upset by the way in which the hiring process was conducted, saying they did not have a chance to voice their opinions about the position.

“With Mark [Houlemarde], we had a chance to review his resume and interview him before he was officially announced,” said Oscar Correia ’14, outgoing co-chair of La Asociación Latina. “In this case, none of us were able to meet Angel [Keen] before [her hire] was made official. I think that the process should always involve considering more than one candidate. This year, [Residential Programs] went too far.”

Correia drew a parallel between the Latino Living Center’s situation and the outcry provoked in 2009 over the replacement of Ken Glover, a former Ujamaa RHD who was abruptly replaced after serving as RHD for the residential hall for 20 years.

“I’m surprised that Residential Programs didn’t learn from their mistakes in the past, because they saw how the community was outraged by the process,” Correia said.

The RHD of the Latino Living Center has an especially critical role in the Latino community, according to Nicolas Ramos ’15, an R.A. at the LLC.

“Something that’s unique about program houses, specifically the ethnically based program houses like the LLC, is that there’s a general community on which the house is based upon,” Ramos said. “The LLC is like a hub to the Latino community here at Cornell. It’s very important that the RHD gets to know the community very well in order to serve as that central point for the community to gather around.”

Original Author: Noah Rankin