Space Matter at PCC
This last July, while most of us enjoyed summer break away from PCC, a cohort of 12 students analyzed Sylvania campus to further work on the Space Matters project. Space Matters is a collective effort to understand and interpret the design and landscape of the PCC campus while applying concepts of critical race theory to make space inclusive and equitable for all students.
Critical race theory is a broad social scientific approach to studying race. It views race as a socially-constructed concept that functions as a means to maintain the interest of the white population that constructed it and provides a critical analysis of race and racism. The theory states: people of color, those who experience racism, are most suitable to study racism and as advocates for intersectionality. No one has a single unitary identity; everyone has overlapping identities, loyalties, and allegiances to include: nationality, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, social class ranking and so on.
The first part of the Space Matters project occurred during winter term 2018 and consisted of surveying students of color to analyze their lived experiences and feelings in various spaces throughout all four campuses.
According to a surveyed student, the big open windows along the multicultural center made them “feel like I’m being watched and put on display.” This was a common theme for most all the student centers. The survey yielded an observation that the administrative offices all had private windows and all student centers had open and exposing windows. Although these are just windows, students had claims as to why privacy is important to them in these centers. Student’s feedback suggested this to be true of the queer resource center where students might be judged or assumptions can be made about their identity that they would prefer to keep private.
Other students expressed gratitude for the change in location of some centers. Until recent renovations, both the multicultural and women’s resource centers at Sylvania had been hidden away behind a partition at the far end of the cafeteria making them hard to find. Both are now more visible, accessible and neighbor the rest of the resource centers in the CC building.
As the second part of the project, during a community forum, the cohort took an audience of administrators and staff on a tour of the Sylvania campus as part of a critical race theory initiative in facilities planning at the College. The tour was lead by students of color and took audience members through the CC building and the HT building. Student leaders surveyed more than 200 students and collected quotes about their perceived experiences though spaces that included communal lounge areas and various resource centers.
Observations from the tour also included single-seat desks that favor right-handed students, a map with disproportionate-sized countries (the U.S., Europe and Australia all disproportionately larger), full-length mirrors in the women’s restroom and not the men’s, and an insight on a white wall that student leader Malia Forney had.
Forney, student leader out of SE campus, came across a blank wall painted white and wondered “Why white? Why not purple or pink?” She explained, all color had meaning and “while purple denotes royalty and pink can represent femininity,” it was interesting to her that white is used to represent blankness. But thinking of color as a reflection of light, white is all colors combined and black is the absence of color, so why is white is used to convey neutrality or blankness?
“If PCC is serious about change and becoming an innovative college, they should invest the time and work to make that happen,”
said Amara Perez, instrctor and leader of the student cohort, when answering an auidence member’s questions at the community forum held at PCC Sylvania.
Packer Architect along with PCC’s planning and construction department will be working to include critical race theory and the information from the community forums to remodel the HT building at the Sylvania campus.
The project is supported under Measure 26-196 that was passed by residents living within PCC’s district in 2017. Bonds from the measure are set to fund the new child care center at the Rock Creek campus; upgrade the public safety building at Cascade campus; enhance safety and security district wide; and renovate the Health Technologies building at the Sylvania campus.
Rebecca Ocken, project manager at PCC, said about the Space Matters community forum, “it’s a dialogue you need to engage in.”
Check out the link below to learn more about Space Matters