For sophomore Human Rights Center (HRC) task force leader Gabe Paz, the HRC is not just a meeting place for campus organizations. Paz said the HRC’s “homey” environment was a cure for occasional pangs of homesickness his freshman year. For that reason and others, Paz said he hopes to share the HRC’s atmosphere with other students and raise awareness about human rights clubs on campus by offering open hours for students to study and hang out at the HRC.
To make the open hours an even sweeter deal, the HRC recently acquired new amenities, including a new oven, fridge, 32-inch flat screen television, wireless internet access and decoration supplies for clubs.
Before the changes were made, Paz called the HRC a “dump,” which mainly served as a meeting and storage place for clubs. “The upstairs was filthy and there were always dirty dishes in the sink,” he said. With help from presidents of human rights clubs, Paz cleaned up the space and prepared it for the open hours.
Paz said he hopes the open hours will spread awareness about human rights clubs. “I want to see a reemergence of human rights clubs on campus that are not just CNN’s latest news stories,” he said. Paz scheduled the open hours during club meeting times so “people can accidentally sit in on a meeting and get involved.”
Aside from promoting the HRC’s organizations, Paz said he hopes the HRC will provide students with an alternative study space. While he recognized that students can study in suite areas, Sandburg Lounge and Seymour Library, he said the HRC provides a “unique space,” which is different than the college’s “cookie cutter” study areas. Even though the HRC is geared as a study area, Paz said there is enough space in the house for people to socialize.
The HRC, which was created in 1999, acts as the meeting place for Knox’s nine human rights clubs. There is a kitchen, eating area, and two meeting rooms on the first floor. The second floor consists of more meeting rooms, a storage area and various offices for the clubs.
One major obstacle to these changes was the HRC’s budget, which is determined by the Center for Intercultural Life (CIL). The HRC usually meets with the CIL to determine a budget; however, the two organizations have not met yet, which has left the HRC without any funds. Even though the HRC’s budget has not come through, Paz was able to get funds for the oven and fridge after what he describes as “painstaking meetings” with Student Senate. The television was purchased with the help of Dean of Students Xavier Romano and leftover money from Students Against Sexism in Society’s [SASS] budget. Wireless internet was set up for free by the college.
In the future, Paz hopes to get a printer and refinish the house’s basement. He also plans to make the building more sustainable by recycling more and planting a garden in the spring.
The HRC will remain open from 7. to 11 p.m. Sunday through Thursday. The open hours began last Sunday, January 25.