Senate votes to form Diversity Affairs Council

| News Editor

In the midst of many issues affecting campus this year including the Mothers bar incident, Student Union Senate passed legislation to form a Diversity Affairs Council (DAC).

Last week in Senate, the new legislation for the creation of the DAC passed with 22 votes in favor, two against and one abstention.

According to the new legislation, the DAC’s mission is to “foster connections between members of the campus community, and address issues so as to bring diversity to the forefront of campus-wide and administrative concerns.”

Diversity refers to that of sex, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion, age, class and philosophy, among many other ways of judging people.

People who supported the legislation hope that by having a council, SU will be able to focus its attention on diversity in a long-term, institutionalized way instead of simply throughout the next year or two until current SU officials have moved on and new ones have come in, bringing a whole new set of issues with them.

According to Sackett, the DAC will have several purposes.

“The DAC has three purposes: to serve as a nexus for student groups and students interested in issues of diversity, to work with Senate to implement policy changes related to diversity, and to help coordinate diversity training efforts present on campus,” Sackett said.

Sackett mentioned issues such as the Mothers bar incident and Celebration Weekend as some topics that have recently spurred discussion.

“[It will enable] rapid action planning for instances like racial profiling,” said senior De Nichols, president of Connect 4.

Further, there is redundant programming and overprogramming on campus, Nichols said.

“[The DAC will] unite and possibly combine some ideas and efforts,” Nichols said.

In regards to the diversity training on campus, the DAC will become a resource in addition to a collaboration center.

Student groups such as Safezone, SARAH, Mixed and Uncle Joe’s all provide diversity training, but supporters say that this will allow them to be better coordinated.

Nichols hopes that Greek Life will also be a part of this collaboration too.

The next step comes Tuesday when Treasury votes on the new legislation.

According to Sackett, a change in the constitution requires a two-thirds vote in both Senate and Treasury.

“This is an opportunity for Treasury to show the student body whether they’re committed to diversity,” said Senior Class President and Fernando Cutz, co-chair of WU/FUSED.

Sackett, Cutz and Nichols all hope that Treasury votes in favor of the DAC, but they will have to wait until Tuesday to see what happens.

“I expect that they’ll pass it because I have faith that Treasury wants to have student groups they fund work together,” Sackett said.

Cutz agreed with Sackett but also mentioned that they have been a bit less certain about the creation of the DAC.

“It is my greatest hope that they’ll pass it,” Cutz said. “I think that Treasury has been a little more hesitant with the DAC and we’re not exactly sure why.”

Cutz did mention, however, that if the Treasury does not give this legislation two-thirds of the votes, there would be alternative ways of making sure the DAC is formed.

“We have backup plans if they don’t [pass it],” Cutz said.

If the legislation is passed, the DAC will be formed in late March, once the next administration is and sworn in. They then will appoint a DAC chair who will have to be approved by both Senate and Treasury.

This process has been a long one, making the passed version of the legislation the 13th draft.

When Jeff Nelson was originally approached about the issue, according to Nichols, he said that there was not anything in SU about “diversity affairs” yet.

Before being passed in Senate, the legislation previously passed the University Initiatives Committee with 10 votes in favor and zero votes opposing it.

“This has been a long process and a lot of people have been involved,” Sackett said.