Former Arizona Gov. Raul Castro’s house has been left vacant since his death in April 2015. Now the UA hopes to rejuvenate the residence as a new border studies center for students and faculty.
After Castro’s death, his family donated the 105-year-old home to the UA College of Social and Behavioral Sciences. While plans for the center are not finalized, the college intends to christen the building as the UA Castro Center for Border Studies and Outreach.
Jennifer Yamnitz, director of marketing and communications for the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, said there has been a long partnership with various organizations down state.
“Students and faculty in the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences have been working with organizations in Ambos Nogales for more than 20 years,” she said. “Although the agreement is not finalized, we are excited to have this opportunity to create a space in Nogales to enhance our border studies and outreach programs.”
As plans move forward, the college has advertised the project to local residents, according to Nogales International.
Potential ideas for the center include a classroom, conference, workshop and seminar space available to UA students and faculty who are studying in the area.
“The community has been very welcoming and we look forward to building stronger ties with our regional partners,” Yamnitz said.
Those involved also took feedback on opinions about the plan from residents. Most locals are excited about potential UA library access in the community. Some, however, brought up that parking for students and faculty on the side streets will be an issue as well as a distraction.
As the college is currently undecided on the plan for the Castro Center, the center’s funding is being taken into consideration.
The home will need to undergo construction, the expenses of which are expected to be upwards of $650,000, according to Nogales International.
Kylie Warren, a journalism sophomore, believes the center could have potential benefits for UA journalism students. She said since Arizona is close to the border, it has a strong presence in residents’ everyday lives.
“We hear stories, meet people, see things that revolve around it and as journalists it’s our duty to report on topics such as that,” Warren said. “It’s something that is ongoing in every person’s life and as journalism students, we are going to have to face stories that relate to the border, whether it be actual things happening at the border, diversity and education, these topics continue to arise.”
Warren thinks the center could potentially be informative and host many people that work closely with border relations in a safe environment. She thinks it could be beneficial for her and a colleague of hers who is writing on the topic.
“I think the studies there are going to have to be more specific, cultural related, historic or humanitarian based,” Warren said. “SBS is based around humanistic topics and Castro’s house could be a place that will help UA students learn in an environment filled with the culture they are studying.”
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