More money, new coordinator for CCEI



Isabelle Ortiz, a new hire in the Center for Cultural Engagement and Inclusion said she plans to bring more programming surrounding LGBTQ education.

Mikayla Galaviz, Reporter

The Center for Cultural Engagement and Inclusion received a 43% increase in their budget for the 2020-2021 school year.

“This money strictly goes back into making sure that our students feel seen in the programming, that they feel heard in the programming,” Nicole Gonzales, assistant director of Student Life, said. “We’re always open to new ideas for the center.”

Located in the Student Union, the CCEI is available to all students who want to educate themselves on social justice issues as well as learn more about other cultures in aim to increase inclusivity on campus.

The new budget will allow the center to begin a new initiative, the ‘diversity peer educator program,’ which will connect students of different backgrounds to engage in discussion surrounding different social justice topics. 

“I always think peer-to-peer education is really important,” Gonzales said. “In creating a diversity peer educator program, we’re hoping to give some students the opportunity to bring their knowledge they already have around social justice and issues of racism and their anti-racism work to the student population in conjunction with our professional staff in the center.” 

Currently the CCEI is planning to launch the new program in the spring; however, things may change.

“Our whole function is to support students. This money strictly goes back into making sure that our students feel seen in the programming, that they feel heard in the programming. We’re always open to new ideas for the center.”

— Nicole Gonzales, assistant director of Student Life

“A lot of things are kind of up in the air because we don’t know what our situations are going to look like,” Gonzales said.

During the 2019-2020 school year, the CCEI launched a new retreat series made for people of different identities, including retreats for people of color and for the LGBTQ community.

Gonzales said she hopes to create more retreats including a women of color retreat and a men’s retreat.

This fall, the CCEI also hired Isabelle Ortiz as coordinator for the center. She has worked on programs such as the Week of Welcome Trivia Night and Bisexuality Day.

Ortiz is a first-generation college graduate who moved to California from New York amidst the pandemic.

After becoming very involved as an undergraduate student, Ortiz knew she wanted to go into student affairs, “I got to actually do a lot of work with LGBTQ+ students and also just connect with other cultural clubs on campus. That’s when I knew that I wanted to be a professional in higher education and to continue advocating for students from marginalized backgrounds.”

Cal Lutheran appealed to Ortiz because it is an Hispanic Serving Institution.

“Throughout my masters program, I learned a lot about Hispanic Serving Institutions and how they get that funding, just basically everything that goes into the institution does for Latinx populations.” Ortiz said. “I just want to continue advocating for those students so when I saw that it peaked my interest.”

Ortiz said she plans to implement additional programs that will educate students about the LGBTQ community.

“A lot of what I did and what I’m comfortable doing is educating individuals about the LGBTQ+ community,” she added. “The position definitely called to everything that I hold true to myself which is to continue advocating marginalized populations, educating students and just building that community with students.”

Gonzales said that it is nice to have a full staff again, the CCEI hasn’t had a full staff since she arrived. “The more people you have supporting that, the more opportunities you have to create programs and to provide support for students.”

With this budget increase, Gonzales is excited to grow the center’s three main focuses: programs, education and retreats.

“It really just helps us continue to do the work we have been doing and expand [it] so that more students feel represented [and] more students can experience what the center has to offer,” Gonzales said. “If a student has an idea, they know they can come to us and we can support that idea because we have some more cushion there in terms of our funding.”

This article was updated Sept. 24 at 2 p.m. to reflect that the additional money allocated to the Center for Cultural Engagement and Inclusion was not related to the ability to hire a new coordinator, the position was vacant. An earlier version of this article stated that the additional funding was in part used for the new coordinator.