Campus News

Innovation Grant Awarded to Fund Student Support Services

March 11, 2019

Hillary Hempstead

students meeting in Third World House
Students and staff meet for a First Friday program in Third World House
Photo credit: Yvonne Gay

A $3,500 grant from the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA) Innovation Grants Program will fund student support services for first-generation students.

Located in the Third World House classroom, Obie Xing is a new student support hub that links the residential experience with resources that foster student success.

In February 2019, The Obie Xing program earned a $3,500 grant awarded to Assistant Vice President Adrian Bautista and Assistant Dean of Students Brook Escobedo. The Innovation Grants Program supports innovation, exploration, and development that promotes student learning and success. The National Association of Student Personnel Administrators provides the funding.

Other offices involved in the efforts include the Center for Student Success, the Office of Residential Education, and the Office of the Dean of Students.

The idea for Obie Xing was born out of Oberlin’s PossePlus Retreat, an annual event that brings together Posse Scholars and members of the student body, faculty, and staff. At last year’s retreat, attendees proposed the idea of creating a space on campus for first-generation college students to gather, study, and attend programs.

“Obie Xing was created as a dedicated space for campus dialogue,” says Bautista. “That’s the purpose of the program; to bring folks together.”

Bautista and Escobedo first applied for the grant in 2018, and they were awarded funding after applying a second time.

“In 2018, we applied for resources to spruce up the space in Third World House,” says Escobedo. “While we didn’t receive that grant, we continued our efforts to transform the space and initiate programming. When we applied this year, our application was more program-focused.”

The Obie Xing program has three stated objectives: fostering student success;,creating career and alumni connections,and encouraging dialogue.

To that end, the Third World House classroom is being used for programs that support these objectives. Every first Friday of the month, the group organizes a workshop aimed at fostering success among first-generation college students.

In February, a representative from the Career Development Center spoke about how to obtain funding for summer internships; in March, they sponsored a workshop that addressed imposter syndrome. A new student-led restorative justice program, Climate Circles, will also take place in Obie Xing this semester.

Meeting in Third World House
The Third World House classroom is being used as a space for Obie Xing  programs.

While the audience for these programs is typically first-generation students, it’s not limited to just that group. There are also faculty and staff who participate in the services provided by Obie Xing.

“When we say ‘first-generation,’ that’s really a broad network of individuals—it can also include faculty and staff,” says Escobedo. “There’s a group of staff who attend our programs that were the first in their family to attend college, or they received a Pell Grant to attend school.”

The new space will also provide a venue for peer mentoring, LEAD sessions, and other workshops sponsored by student support offices.

“We want to have the area function as a seminar-style space. It’s designated as a classroom space, and we hope to have both comparative American studies and gender, sexuality, and feminist studies classes there,” says Bautista.

Both Bautista and Escobedo also see Obie Xing as working in concert with the Multicultural Resource Center (MRC), and there are plans to partner with the MRC as a complementary  space.

When considering the new space and what it means to the campus, Bautista sees the space as something that serves to unite and engage in useful dialogue.

“We want to bring people together, and this is a place to do that. The students have been wanting this kind of space to call their own.”

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