UCPD called into movie night event in Family Housing

Vincent Ta/HIGHLANDER
Vincent Ta/HIGHLANDER

On Friday night Dec. 5, Child Development Center (CDC) staff abruptly interrupted an R’Kids movie night when a kindergarten teacher told the moviegoers (about 20 student parents and their children) that the space would no longer be available to them. The CDC had decided to convert the family housing community center into a kindergarten classroom due to limited space in the CDC caused by a persistent mold problem in the center.

The altercation between student parents, the CDC kindergarten teacher and resident director of housing services Patricia Garcia eventually necessitated UCPD to facilitate conversation. The student parents and their children were eventually allowed to finish the movie (Disney’s “Frozen”) but a few parents like Ellen Syvoravong claimed that the night had been ruined and that they had been mistreated.

“(The CDC kindergarten teacher) was very, very hostile,” said Syvoravong, saying that the teacher had laid out all sorts of toys and chairs in the community room but instructed R’Kids members to “not touch” any of the equipment despite limited room.

“We reacted to that hostility,” said Anna Sanchez, a sociology major and student parent. “We were on defense mode because we are parents. We felt uncomfortable … for our children.”

Concerned R’Kids members, composed of student parents and their children, met on Sunday Dec. 7. The meeting was organized by ASUCR Senator Akeem Brown to create a set list of demands for Vice Chancellor Jim Sandoval and CDC Director Renee Jacobs, both of whom will meet with the group later in the week.

The parents in this meeting were concerned, saying that they used this community room as a safe space in which their children could play while the parents used the computer lab to write papers.

“Now what are you going to do for the residents to compensate what you have taken from them?” asked Sherri Hughes, a psychology major, pointing out that all family housing residents paid for the community room as part of their rent. CDC officials reportedly told parents that they would be granted access to an empty housing unit as compromise for the lost community room.

“We want the space back. We do not want to compromise,” Brown said, summarizing the appeals of the parents at the meeting.

Andy Plumley, the assistant vice chancellor of housing, dining and resident services expressed regret over how the movie night situation was handled. “We failed to provide ample notice to our family housing residents. The attached notice went out yesterday (Dec. 8), but should have gone out earlier. We also failed to check the reservations for the Community Center.”

Jacobs also said, “I’ve corresponded with R’Kids for additional information as well as apologized for the misunderstanding. We are looking into the situation to determine what caused the disagreement.”

UCR officials previously told the Highlander that the mold would be taken care of by Dec. 6. Student parents are now being told that the mold cleanup will take until February 2015.

R’Kids members have since put up a flyer informing family housing residents of the CDC’s use of the community room and encouraging them to voice their dissent to get back the community room.

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