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The Penn First Plus Office works on initiatives such as faculty and staff training programs on better understanding FGLI students.

Credit: Kelly Chen

The Penn First Plus office will be housed in the ground floor of College Hall, its first physical space on campus.

Construction on Penn First Plus' permanent office will begin later this semester, Penn First Plus Executive Director Marc Lo wrote in an email to The Daily Pennsylvanian. The Office of Penn First Plus students provides resources for first-generation, low-income students. The center is expected to open in time for the 2020-2021 academic year. The ground floor was previously occupied by the admissions center, which moved to the basement of Claudia Cohen Hall in May.

Penn First Internal Outreach Chair and College senior Daniel Gonzalez said a physical space for the office is the important part of this new development is the University’s recognition of the FGLI community.

“They’re carving out a space specifically for a student like me to be there,” Gonzalez said. “The school is recognizing my identity.”

The University first announced the creation of the Penn First Plus office in an email to students in May 2018. The office works on initiatives such as faculty and staff training programs on better understanding FGLI students. It also grows scholarship funds and provide resources to prepare and retain FGLI students, according to its page on the Power of Penn website. The office consists of an executive director, two faculty directors, and student liaisons in each undergraduate school.

Credit: Miranda Gong

The current state of the room where the Penn First Plus office will exist.

Gonzalez said, however, with the growing number of FGLI student groups and offices such as the Greenfield Intercultural Center and Student Financial Services, students can get confused about what each office does and where to go for certain questions.

“I know I would be excited to go to this space, but until there’s more communication and clarity, people might be confused what they would go there for,” Gonzalez said.

Three years ago, Penn became the second university in the Ivy League – after Brown University – to open a resource center for FGLI students. 15% of students admitted to the Class of 2023 are the first in their family to attend college, a slight increase from 14% of the admitted Class of 2022.  

The admissions center moved from College Hall to the basement of Claudia Cohen Hall after nine months of construction. At the time, Lindsay Dussing, the director of on-campus programs for the Admissions Office, said the center needed a larger space to accommodate the increase in visitors to campus, but declined to comment on what the previous admissions center space would be used for.