Connect 4 provides support for diversity initiatives

Fernando Cutz | Op-Ed Submission

In response to an incident of Anti-Semitism that had occurred against my freshman year roommate and in response to four other events of hate, discrimination and prejudice that had occurred on our campus in the span of a few months, I founded the Student Diversity Initiative early in the fall of 2007. We soon went on to merge with Campus Week of Dialogue, a group that had been around on our campus for over a decade, and collectively we became known as Connect 4.

Connect 4 proved to have a strong purpose and need at our school. As we like to say, we are the only “non-cultural, cultural group” around. Instead of celebrating one specific culture or heritage, we strive to celebrate them all. Instead of focusing on what divides us, we strive to focus on what brings us together. Our programming has been hugely successful on campus and has taught students to better embrace and celebrate diversity, dialogue, understanding and change within our community.

Recently, however, we have seen that programming alone is not enough. With the Mother’s Bar incident, the discussions of racial profiling on campus and the dialogue dealing with WU/FUSED and socio-economic diversity issues all having been prominent this past semester, we have come to realize that policy aspects are equally important to truly addressing issues of diversity and discrimination at Wash. U. The University administration, understandably, tends to work with Student Union, not specific student groups, on issues of policy that affect the student body. That is why I plan to strongly advocate for the creation of the Diversity Affairs Council (DAC) within Student Union.

Compared to our sister schools, Washington University’s student government is one of the very few that doesn’t have a diversity position within it. It is imperative that we change this. The DAC would be responsible for working with the many student groups and with SU to have policy-level input on all kinds of issues of diversity. It would advise both SU Execs and Senate and would use SU’s legitimacy and infrastructure to facilitate dialogue and co-programming between the many diversity groups on our campus and between the appropriate diversity-oriented members of the University administration.

Connect 4 will continue to exist as a student group and will continue with its mission. But the DAC is an essential addition to the structure of SU that will allow diversity to be furthered on our campus, and issues of hate, discrimination and prejudice to be dealt with more effectively in the future. I strongly support the formation of the DAC and encourage you to express your support for it at an upcoming Senate meeting as well!

Fernando Cutz
Senior Class President, Class of 2010

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