To the Editor:
Re: “S.A. Revises Funding Process For Minority Student Groups,” News, March 9; "Minority Student Leaders Debate New Funding Rules," News, April 17
In The Sun article, “S.A. Revises Funding Process For Minority Student Groups” on March 9, I was quoted as saying, “I’m really glad so many people are sitting around the table really figuring out how to prioritize these issues and support them ... It’s not usual that we all sit down together and talk about how to solve issues together ... This new collaborative spirit is really positive.”
I was personally very hopeful when the Umbrella Programming Fund meetings first started because I saw the process as an opportunity for leaders in the Cornell community to come together and openly discuss the issues that each of our communities face and the ways we build and support our communities. This dialogue was important to me for three reasons.
First, the dialogue was necessary in order for me to understand how the UPF could be allocated to optimally support each community by fitting each community's specific financial needs. It was essential to me that we understand issues that each of our communities face and the ways we build and support our communities in order to determine the support the community needed financially from the UPF fund.
Second, the dialogue would also be instrumental in creating stronger relationships and support amongst the race/ethnically-based umbrella organizations. By understanding each others' issues and efforts to address them and build community, the umbrella organizations can better understand how to work together in solidarity.
Third, it would allow the Student Assembly to better understand and represent the minority and multicultural portions of its constituents by first understanding the issues of its minority communities, as well as the operations of minority umbrella organizations.
Because of time constraints and the pressure to produce tangibles, the process shifted focus to allocating numbers and did not provide sufficient space for us to really have the dialogue about our communities’ issues and community building under each umbrella. As a result, I didn’t feel comfortable making a value judgement on each community’s financial needs and thus abstained from voting at the end of the UPF meeting on April 14.
Although the process — from CAPSU’s byline funding through to today’s UPF allocation decisions — has not been perfect, as I outline in my open letter entitled “On the History of the Umbrella Programming Fund from CAPSU’s Perspective,” I want to emphasize that the UPF meetings have started a dialogue between the umbrella organizations and the Student Assembly that, although we were not able to fully have before UPF allocations were determined, will continue throughout the rest of the semester and hopefully will be sustainably carried out into the future. Even though it was a difficult process to get to this point, what is important to me is that student leaders have created a space for current and future leaders to come together to engage in open dialogue and to build positive relationships. We now have the opportunity to create a positive campus climate around race, minority and identity issues and, with current leaders committed to continuing that dialogue, I remain hopeful for the future.
Sharon Lau ’12