Photo Credit:  Navor Jacob Tercero.

Cutline: The East Campus building sits on the far side of the east parking lot. It is used mostly for storage.

By Navor Jacob Tercero

Sitting on the far end of the East Mount Vernon SVC Parking lot is the East Campus Building. Formerly the home of Grace Christian Fellowship, a non-denominational protestant church it was vacated by the church several years ago and has changed hands several times since. Briefly, it was used by the Mount Vernon Police department but was then acquired by SVC. It has since been used by SVC as storage as well as host building the Life Transitions program until spring of 2016. That spring SVC administration decided to move the Life Transitions program out of the East Campus building and into Nelson Hall. Since then the building has remained unoccupied.

The Life Transitions program was born out of the displaced homemakers program which was used to train women who were divorced or leaving a bad situation and were seeking to re-enter the workforce. Since then the program has opened to include a broad spectrum of individuals who are undergoing a large life change such as someone who is coming out of substance abuse or coming out of incarceration. The program helps lead these individuals back into the workforce to help them understand what their goals are and help them achieve those goals.

The decision to move Life Transitions onto the Main Campus out of the East Campus building was at the time, somewhat controversial. The Cardinal spoke with several individuals across SVC who are involved in SVC administration. They all communicated to the Cardinal that the goal of the administration was to help involve and integrate a marginalized population on campus away from further marginalization.

Dr. Joan Youngquist, the Dean of Basic Education and Transitional Studies, of which Life Transitions is a part of, spoke to the Cardinal and said that “One of the benefits of [this move] was getting students onto campus so they feel more comfortable on campus, so they understand that this is their campus and they believe that they belong here as much as any other student.”

However, when the decision came down the tube to move Life Transitions away from the East Campus Building and into Nelson Hall, a number of individuals who were involved with Life Transitions as wither students or volunteers took issue with this decision. They argued that those who were involved in Life Transitions preferred that they stay in the East Campus Building rather than be kicked out and moved into Nelson Hall. It was their feeling that the East Campus Building provided a sort of sanctuary for Life Transitions individuals where they could be comfortable and breathe.

These students reached out to the current Student Government to seek help in keeping Life Transitions in the East Campus building. Members of that Student Government spoke with members of the SVC administration but learned that it was effectively a done deal. Despite the objection of these individuals, the program was moved to Nelson Hall anyway.

The Cardinal attempted to reach out to these individuals for comment but was unable to contact them.

Dr. Youngquist remembered that this was a fear of opponents to the move but noted that those fears have happily been proven wrong. “We have been able to create a space in Nelson with the classroom… as well as the office space beside there so the students have a space there [to make their own].” Since the move, no students have come to her with concerns or issues about comfort on the main campus.

Besides simply trying to integrate a rather marginalized student population in the greater campus community, there was another reason to move Life Transitions out of the East Campus building. The building itself is rather dilapidated and is overdue for repairs and renovations.

Ed Jaramillo, Vice President of Administrative Services said to the Cardinal that “Three-quarters of the building is… a warehouse.” and that the building needs a lot of repairs which are common among buildings of its age. Due to this, it is not very suitable for office or department habitation. Though at this time the East Campus Building is in poor shape Jaramillo says that the college hopes to renovate parts of the building to put it back to use at some point in the future. Until then, however, it remains empty.