Heading into its first full semester, the newly formed Cornell Student Assembly Black Caucus has not only grown, but is now focused on addressing issues of representation and advocacy for black students on campus.
So far, the caucus submitted and passed two S.A. resolutions. Both resolutions — spearheaded by Gavin Martin ’20, College of Arts and Sciences representative and chair and speaker of the caucus — were meant to promote advocacy of minority issues on campus.
The first resolution passed within the caucus recognized the Africana Studies and Research Center for the advocacy it has done on campus. The resolution has yet to be taken up for a vote by the broader S.A.
“We are greatly appreciative of the work of all past and current faculty of the ASRC,” the resolution read. “Without you, we would not have our classes, we would not have our knowledge, we would not know our history.”
Another resolution presented at a S.A. meeting on Feb. 6 sought to change the “e” in the S.A.’s Women’s Issues Representative At-Large title to an “x” to foster more inclusion within the assembly. While the resolution unanimously passed in the Black Caucus, the S.A. decided to revisit the initiative at its next meeting on Feb. 13.
“We wanted to address and highlight the intersectionality of what it means to be a woman and [highlight] inclusivity for those who are genderqueer, non-binary or nonconforming,” Martin told The Sun.
Originally, 11 S.A. members and S.A-affiliated members organized to form the Black Caucus in December, with a mission to “continue the work of the Black students who organized the Willard Straight Hall Takeover of 1969, which resulted in the creation of the Cornell Student Assembly,” according to a December press release.
The caucus works toward the retention of black members on the S.A., treatment of black people on campus, representation of black people and community building. The Black Caucus is not an official S.A. body and does not plan to become institutionalized within the S.A.’s charter.
“Our existence as a collective does not require the validation of others and more specifically our non-black peers. The institutionalization we seek is exogenous from whatever formalized process the Student Assembly can possibly provide,” the founding statement read.
Martin said that many students and alumni have reached out to him about joining the black caucus as guest members.
There are four types of membership in the caucus: full-membership for active S.A. members, provisional membership for those interested in joining the S.A., retroactive membership for past S.A. members and guest membership. Community members who “advocate for Black Rights and issues on campus” are eligible for a guest membership.
Last Sunday, the caucus also welcomed two new members.
The two new members are Kirubeal Wondimu ’22 and Anuli Ononye ’22. Wondimu serves as the S.A.’s First Generation Student Representative At-Large, and Ononye is the Director of Academic Affairs for the Office of the Student Advocate, an S.A. organization that offers counsel to students on a range of administrative issues.
“I hope the caucus becomes a place where black and minority students on campus feel that their voices will be heard and acknowledged,” Ononye said.