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Source: Grand Forks Herald, April 8, 1995

Steve Schmidt
Herald Staff Writer

Some minority students at UND think closing the Era Bell Thompson Cultural Center will be a good remedy for defusing tensions that have built up over the past year.

Director Sandy Hoagland is resigning effective May 31 as a result of those tensions.

But there's also some student sentiment that UND administrators should have tried harder to resolve problems before shutting down the center Thursday.

Broderick ``Bo'' Powell, president of the Black Student Association, which had been based at the center, said Friday, ``I just don't feel the university was fair. What if this had happened at a fraternity or sorority house, or some other place on campus? All organizations have problems, but does that mean the university has to shut it completely down?''

Powell and several other students involved in cultural center activities say problems had more to do with personal conflicts of students and administrators, than with organizational conflicts or with one minority versus another.

He said he liked working with Hoagland, who is leaving after a year because of differences with the administration and a coming reorganization of student services.

``I think Sandy did a great job,'' Powell said. ``He had a different way, his own way, and some people were not open to new ways and ideas.''

The center's history of personal conflicts will have to be resolved, the black student officer said, otherwise a new coordinator could end up in the same fix. UND has had four coordinators in seven years at the center, which deals with services -- such as career, financial and cultural organization advice -- for Afro-, Asian- and Hispanic-American students.

Another member of the Black Student Association, Andy Louis, and Patricia Medina, the president of the Hispanic-American Student Association, both said they thought the closing would be good for minority affairs in the short run, and they predicted it would be open again for multicultural uses.

Louis said, ``It's unfortunate it went this way, but it'll be good, because students will start to ask questions, and then they'll become more involved in how the center can add to their experience.''

Both he and Medina said they were former users of the center who, among others, had stopped coming because they weren't comfortable and didn't feel safe in the atmosphere Hoagland had created.

A dispute between some students and Hoagland had even resulted, they said, in death and bomb threats that UND police still are investigating.

Jerry Bulisco, assistant dean of students, said he did not think the closing would be ``a permanent shutdown.''

Services to minority students will be provided at other sites.