In Fall 2013, Georgia Southern University’s Center for Africana Studies office downsized from the Forest Drive Building into a shared office in the Carroll building and students are now petitioning for more space.
Room 2288 on the second floor of the Carroll Building is currently the office for three other class interdisciplinary programs: Women and Gender Studies, The Center for Irish Studies and American Studies.
The decision to move the Center was made in Spring 2012 by the Space Planning and Allocation Committee, co-chaired by Provost Ted Moore and Vice President for Business and Finance Ron Core, both of whom are no longer at Georgia Southern.
“Unfortunately on campus, there is a shortage of space as we’ve grown a lot in the last several years,” Michelle Haberland, Ph.D., director of Women and Gender’s Studies, said.
Akiv Dawson, petition co-creator and post-baccalaureate student with a minor in Africana studies, feels the new space simply is not big enough to hold all four minors.
“The issue is a question of space which is difficult of course for the university right now. But at the same time if they have space available in which all the centers can be able to spread and grow, the better for everybody. It poses constraints on all the programs really, not only africana studies,” Saba Jallow, Ph.D., director of Africana studies, said.
The previous space in the Forest Drive building allowed students to use computers to do homework or research as well as just hang out. The space also allowed faculty to check out necessary materials for their lectures.
As a result of the move, many of the Africana Studies Center materials are being held in a storage closet and a few boxes are being stored in Jallow’s office. Consequently much of the work is also being done out of Jallow’s office, Dawson said.
“None of the Africana studies information is available in that center because there is no room for it. There is not a sign outside of the office for it because there is no room for it,” Dawson said.
Dawson said the center presently has a recruiting goal of 150 minors and she worries that the new space, in combination with the three other programs, is not the appropriate space to put those prospective students.
“Once we recruit the minors, where are we going to send them to if there’s not enough space for them?” Dawson said. “We don’t know why we were moved. Our main mission is just to be moved to another space. Once the administration comes and sees the space that we’re in now, they’ll gauge how much space we need. I feel like they’ll put us in a big enough space.”
The Africana Studies Center has gained a lot of recognition in the past few years for completing the Yoruba Online Dictionary, a project that was initiated by the late Dr. Olaoba Frank Arasanyin. Experts were brought in from Yale to work on the template and the completed program allows users to type in Yoruba words and have those words be translated into English.
Since the completion of the project, many students have shown interest in the Yoruba language in addition to the program, and more classes have been developed to cater to those students.
“If we have student energy around these programs and these disciplines, we got to capitalize on that. And if space is what we need then we need to find some space for students to be able to work,” Haberland said.
Students who are interested in signing the petition in support of the Africana Studies Center moving to a more suitable space can email Akiv Dawson.