April 5, 2016

S.A. Reforms May Boost Minority Representation

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The Student Assembly will consider restructuring in order to better represent minorities on campus, the assembly will address how to “forge a more inclusive, accepting and truly representative future,” at an open forum, April 7, according to the Restructure Student Assembly, event page.

The S.A. passed a resolution in March creating the First-Generation Liaison at Large Position, in order to represent the interests of students on campus who are the first in their families to attend college.

However, some groups remain underrepresented on the S.A. “due to the systemic exclusion within the current structure,” explains the forum’s Facebook event.

The key issue that the S.A. hopes to address is increasing minority representation according to Emma Johnston ’16, S.A. Executive Vice President.

“Our main problem isn’t really what we do, but what we don’t do,” she said. “If you don’t have the voices of certain communities in the room, their issues will go unnoticed and unsolved.”

Saim Chaudhary ’17, S.A. Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion, said he believes that the current structure of the S.A. does not accurately represent all groups on campus, citing recent admissions data as evidence.

“Currently, there are two minority liaisons, one international, LGBTQ and Women’s Liaison each out of a total of 27 representatives,” he said. “The most recent admitted class has 49 percent [people of color] — I think these numbers make the point for me.”

Both indicated that the given structure leaves many students on the S.A. isolated from certain community groups.

“Right now, we have many college representatives — seats that often won unopposed — and other identity-based positions that are highly contested,” Johnston said. “The college representatives often do not feel responsible for doing work as representatives of the student body at-large, leading to inefficiencies in how we deal with issues related to campus life outside of college-specific academics.”

Chaudhary added that he hopes the restructuring will help minority students on campus believe that the S.A. is attentive to ­their concerns.
“There is a dire need to reach out to the disillusioned communities and the student body to take part in the student assembly by voting and making sure students from these communities stand in elections,” he said.