Marcus A. Rodriguez appointed as director of SLICE

Marcus A. Rodriguez, the new SLICE director, introduces himself at a club leader workshop in Weingart Hall at Occidental College in Los Angeles, CA. Thursday, Oct. 10, 2019. Jasmine Mack/The Occidental

Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students Rob Flot announced Marcus A. Rodriguez as the new Director of Student Leadership, Involvement, and Community Engagement (SLICE) in a campus-wide email Aug. 21. After assuming the role Sept. 9, Rodriguez also accepted the position of Associated Students of Occidental College (ASOC) Senate advisor Sept. 16.

As Director of SLICE, Rodriguez’s responsibilities include managing finances for clubs and events, ensuring that events are planned and scheduled in a timely fashion and helping SLICE staff grow as student affairs professionals, among other things.

“We know that relationships and community building are crucial, and so a lot of what I do is making sure that I’m [a] conduit,” Rodriguez said. “I amplify the relationship-building efforts of both the institution and the relationship and community building efforts of Senate and find, of course, ways in which everyone’s working together, sharing information, creating a dialogue, should a dialogue be necessary, etc.”

Liliana Vasquez (senior) is the program coordinator for affinity groups at SLICE and member of the SLICE director search committee. Vasquez said Rodriguez’s experience in student affairs made him stand out among the applicants.

“I knew that’s what we needed in a director, somebody who had experience — knew the ins and outs and how to run student affairs,” Vasquez said.

ASOC President Nina Srdić Hadži-Nešić (junior) also served as a member of the SLICE director search committee and said Rodriguez was not the only applicant who had expertise in higher educationAccording to Srdić Hadži-Nešić, his experience with student government is what appealed to her.

“What really made him stood out, in my opinion, is his expertise in working with student government,” Srdić Hadži-Nešić said. “Especially how adamant — not just in government — but how adamant he was about incorporating the student voice.”

With more than 15 years of experience in student affairs, Rodriguez said he was excited that the position combined so many facets of the profession.

“Community engagement, student government, and then of course, student life … seeing all of that come into one office is an exciting thing, and — especially someone who’s been a career student affairs professional — you don’t see an opportunity like that very often,” Rodriguez said.

According to Maggie Smart-McCabe (senior), co-student life liason on the Diversity & Equity Board (DEB), Rodriguez has been very responsive and efficient when working with DEB.

“I think what’s really exciting about Marcus is he’s really about making sure that students feel like he’s meeting their needs before we asked him to, which is really, really great,” Smart-McCabe said.

Vasquez works in the SLICE office with Rodriguez and said he has given a good first impression.

“I think he’s doing a great job of balancing things right now. I know he has a lot of one-on-one interviews and [he’s] trying to get to know all the faculty and staff on campus. But he’s also trying to make himself available to students,” Vasquez said.
“He makes himself really accessible, which makes our jobs as students easier.”

According to Vasquez, ever since the Office of Student Life (OSL) and the Office of Community Engagement (OCE) combined to form SLICE, there has been a problem with students being unaware of SLICE’s many resources and how to take advantage of them. Rodriguez explained that when a student walks into the SLICE office, they can learn about or get involved in any level of community or on-campus leadership or engagement.

“I believe that SLICE, with all of the good things that we’re doing and about to build, has a trajectory truly to be the office that has its fingers on the pulse of campus,” Rodriguez said. “When you have so many dynamic moving parts, we really just want to be that central hub of student life and activities.”

He also said the SLICE office is open to all students for any reason, even just to lounge. The office is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays, but Rodriguez said there is usually some staff in the space after hours, encouraging students to knock or reach out via email.

“We want to make sure that accessibility is important. And so being quick to acknowledge correspondence or a personal approach is going to be one of the expectations of SLICE,” Rodriguez said.

Srdić Hadži-Nešić said Rodriguez is very pleasant, energetic, and encouraging and she is excited about the future of SLICE under Rodriguez’s leadership.

“I think [students] should know that they can always, always, always talk to him. He is incredibly approachable and loves talking to students,” Srdić Hadži-Nešić said. “I’m excited to see how SLICE grows under his direction.”