In the Fall of 1999, a group of students at the University of Colorado at Boulder (UCB) collectively recognized the widespread problem concerning the lack of underrepresented students present on campus. This group understood that students of color, student parents, students with disabilities, gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender students, low income students, as well as non-traditional students have historically faced barriers to higher education greatly affecting their representation on the Boulder campus. As a consequence of the absence of these students, in addition to an often discouraging climate on campus, many underrepresented students feel alienated and unwelcome, generating extremely low retention rates.
In a quest to change this situation at UCB, a group of dedicated students turned to their communities in order to find new and innovative solutions to the all too familiar problems. They began by researching recruitment and retention centers at universities across the country. These student-centered organizations, in conjunction with preexisting programs offered by UCB, became inspirational models. After observing specific student groups such as the Black Student Alliance, Movimiento Estudiantil Xicana/o de Aztlan, United Mexican American Students, and a number of other students groups, it became obvious that these specific student groups played key roles in retention rates among underrepresented students. The ways in which they conducted their meetings and remained involved in intense community outreach, using only uncompensated volunteers, was also studied at this time. After a variety of research was conducted, a number of different issues became apparent, but three focal points continued to surface; students' lack of knowledge of resources available to them, such as scholarships and low-income housing; lack of community events designed for community building; and burn-out.
Gaining an understanding of the internal workings of each program, these students began to plan and establish a center meant to appeal to, and provide for, all students, yet specifically for underrepresented peers. They believed that a student initiated, run, and focused center would have a direct appeal and access to the student body population. The students discerned that this connection between peers would allow for the construction of a cohesive community. And, with the growth of this community, their hopes of retention of underrepresented students at UCB campus could be accomplished. The student center was envisioned as a method of changing the campus climate by encompassing multiculturalism, acting as a centralized hub for all outreach and retention programs on campus, incorporating student driven initiatives, and embracing all underrepresented students.
Thus, in the Spring of 2000, these students, including the originator, Dara Burwell, the first programmer, drafted legislation which outlined the scope of the Student Outreach Retention Center for Equity (SORCE), the path of its creation and direction, and requested seed money. This legislation passed through the University of Colorado Student Union (UCSU), officially marking the creation of SORCE.
Upon our unveiling, SORCE began establishing relationships with student groups and the directors of offices targeting underrepresented communities and communities at-large. We then began the struggle for a centralized location in the newly renovated section of the University Memorial Center (UMC), around which the majority of underrepresented student group offices could be positioned.
From Spring of 2000 - Fall of 2003, SORCE became very active on campus. In the Fall of 2003, the newly elected tri-executives (Lott, Gonzales, and Murray) and legislative council, Diversity Director Kerry Kite, and Student Affairs Director Joseph Neguse formed a second SORCE advisory board charged with taking the necessary steps to have SORCE fully operational by Spring of 2004.
In Spring of 2004 SORCE became a cost center. Thank you to all of those who made this happen.