Making good on a campaign promise, SA President Jordan Smith and Vice President Becca Mooney have established a cabinet position to represent minority students on campus.
The minority student affairs liaison position, written into the SA Bylaws after a bill adding it passed at last Monday’s SA Senate meeting, differs from the typical executive director position in that the individual in the role will not be heading a committee.
Instead, Smith and Mooney said in an interview last Friday, the liaison will work with both minority student groups and SA executive committees to ensure that minority voices are heard and factored into new SA policy.
“It’s important because of historically underrepresented minorities,” sophomore Senator Jamal Holtz said in an interview. “It’s simply an advocate on behalf of those individuals here on campus, especially being at a predominantly white institution. A lot of those individuals feel discouraged and disconnected, so it’s the bridge that connects primarily between student government and those groups.”
The position, atypically, is not open to all students. The only eligible students are those on the executive board of a minority student group, and they must be nominated by a representative from a minority student affairs group, which all individuals interviewed have indicated will be the Minority Student Advisory Board.
Holtz explained that while each liaison may come from only one or two minority groups, the structure of the position is designed to allow them to effectively represent all minority students. Part of the new additions into SA documents mandate that the liaison attend meetings of minority student groups.
Many minority groups have expressed concerns that their voices haven’t been heard by others on campus, a sentiment that has spurred events like a healing vigil in October.
“There’s a lot of disconnect on our campus about knowledge of other student groups and what they do, and also just relations as well,” said sophomore Jasmin Edjang, president of the advisory board. “Just as [the Jaeger] case [happened], there could be something else happening within the minority community that people should know about, and they don’t. It lets them know what’s going on. How we build relationships here is representative of how we build our relationships in the real world.”
Smith and Mooney too felt that the new position will allow SA to improve its ability to represent students on campus.
“I want every student to feel as if their voice is heard and represented by SA,” Smith said. “That’s something that’s very important to us.”
Mooney added: “Recognizing that has not been the case in the past is important. Realizing that this can be a way to address that problem, I think that’s powerful. You have to work with your weaknesses in order to overcome them.”