Students in the Latino Cultural Center (LCC) are trying to save a mural located in their office of the basement of the Student Union (SU) that school officials are considering to paint over.
“We would like to see the mural stand for the students because it was made by the students,” Vice President of LCC Dalia Herrera said.
The work on the mural did not begin until after students returned from spring break on March 26. It was a collaborative effort from LCC E-board members, students of SUNY New Paltz, high school students and children from a local group home, Herrera said.
Michael Patterson, director of Student Activities and Union Services, said the mural was painted without college authorization.
During the last week of February, Patterson found out about LCC’s plan to paint a mural in their office. He said the mural was something that can be considered, but for it to be reviewed and approved, the club must provide a sketch of the mural so Patterson can understand what their mural was going to be.
“We really couldn’t approve a mural,” Patterson said. “We didn’t have anything to approve.”
Because LCC didn’t have a sketch of the mural at the time it was requested, Patterson suggested LCC consider an alternative format to the mural such as a large canvas or luan that could be produced, mounted or framed on the wall. He said these alternatives could be treated more as a piece of artwork that’s not permanently in place. However, Patterson said members of LCC failed to respond or communicate back to his office.
“My staff, through my direction, made attempts to re-enforce our directive with [the students of the Latin Cultural Center] on March 26, March 28 and April 3,” Patterson said in an email to Herrera and LCC President Jonathan Talmi. “All of these requests were left unanswered.”
Talmi said LCC recognized they didn’t do the right things they needed to paint the mural but that shouldn’t take away from the artwork itself. He said there were a number of reasons for the miscommunication between LCC and Patterson.
“We got caught up in a lot of different things and our focus was just to make sure that the community got a chance to participate in the mural,” Talmi said. “Not just the students but also the children of a local group home.”
Talmi said he didn’t expect there to be this much opposition, and it was not their intention to disrespect the Student Activities and Union Services.
Members of the Student Association (SA) drafted and passed a declaration in support of keeping the mural up in the LCC. The declaration said the mural in LCC “assists in addressing [SUNY New Paltz’s] collective aim to promote diversity and equity.”
SA President Terrell Coakley acknowledges the LCC did not go through the proper channels to paint the mural but also believes the mural adds to the visual aesthetic of the student union.
The LCC was created in the mid 1970s “as a place to celebrate and share Latino art.” Coakley said they are the only organization on this campus to maintain a museum inside the SU.
The administration will have the final say regarding the mural.
Students in support of the LCC cause have joined the Facebook group “Save The LCC Mural” and are also distributing a petition.