MPCs take on new role this semester

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Minority Peer Counselors no longer serve as Residential Peer Leaders for first-year units, after administrators decided last semester to remove MPCs from the RPL program so they could serve as counselors for the entire campus.

According to a statement e-mailed to The Herald from current MPCs, the revised role of the position now allows for one-on-one mentoring for students in all classes as well as services aimed specifically for first-years, including group mentoring, diversity programming and resource workshops.

“By moving out of the RPL system, the MPC program hopes to focus more on community building and more aptly address campus-wide issues related to students of color,” according to the statement from MPCs.

Unlike in previous years, when they were tied to specific first-year units, MPCs are now assigned to regions of campus that also encompass residence halls for upperclassmen.

“While it is still early to tell the effectiveness of this change, we are excited about returning to the original goals of the program to serve as diversity and academic resources,” the statement bron MPCs said.

These changes were initiated last year after a proposal from the MPC Steering Committee recommended that MPCs be removed from the RPL system in order to allow them to focus more broadly on counseling for minority issues.

In the past, some MPCs said about 85 percent of their job was identical to that of a Residential Counselor or a Women’s Peer Counselor, David Greene, former vice president for campus life and student services, told The Herald in March.

Richard Bova, senior associate dean for the Office of Residential Life, said he believes the new system for MPCs has been “very complementary” to the current system of residential counseling for first-years. “The collaborative relationship (between the MPCs and the RCs) has been great,” he said.

Bova described MPCs’ relationship with RPLs, including Community Advisors, as one of “assistance and collaboration.”

According to Bova, the MPCs were trained almost completely separately from RCs and WPCs, though there were “some joint team-building activities.”

Karen McLaurin, associate dean of the College and director of the Third World Center, which oversees the MPC program, could not be reached for comment.

Several first-years interviewed by The Herald provided mixed reactions to the revised role of MPCs.

Jeanine Chiu ’10 said she would be very comfortable approaching her MPC with any problems or issues.

Chiu also said MPCs continue to work with other RPLs to counsel students. She went on to explain that the RCs, WPCs and MPCs in Perkins Hall had a meeting – which was open to all students living in the units that reside there – last week concerning an alleged incident of police brutality that occurred Sept. 10.

“We all discussed the issue, and how race plays a part of it,” Chiu said.

Isaac Dweck ’10 said he has had limited interaction so far with the MPC living near him in Hope College.

“I only saw him in the first unit meeting during Orientation,” said Dweck, who lives on the same floor as the MPC.

Dweck said he is also unsure of how MPCs fit in with the larger counseling system in residence halls.

“My understanding is, if racial slurs are yelled out a window, and you want to do something about it, you go to your MPC for things like that,” he said.

The revised role of MPCs signifies the only change made to the RPL system this year, according to Bova.

He added that some first-year units don’t have a WPC because ResLife, which oversees the program, received more qualified applicants interested in becoming RCs. However, every unit has a WPC either in the same residence hall or close by, Bova said.

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