New diversity board: let’s take a SEC to think

In last week’s issue, we ran a letter to the editor from Brittany Chung and Precious Amoako arguing that Case Western Reserve University students need to add a new diversity board to the Student Executive Council (SEC). Their plan for this board is to take cultural and diversity-based student groups, including religious student organizations, out from under the Undergraduate Student Government (USG) umbrella by grouping them under a new diversity-specific SEC board member organization. This would put this new board on the same level as its former overseer in addition to the University Programming Board, University Media Board, Residence Hall Association, Class Officer Collective, Interfraternity Congress and Panhellenic Council.

The Observer staff can see the problems which the letter offers and agrees with their proposal. We believe, but not without much debate among our editorial staff, that the addition of such a board would strengthen the campus community.

CWRU’s cultural diversity climate has become a huge issue this year. We saw tensions boiling over to the point where students felt the need to protest, evidenced in the #webelonghere movement. A national debate has hit home this year. A problem is there, and the creation of a diversity-focused board would be part of a solution.

Let’s see a need and fix it. It takes a lot to rile up the usually passive CWRU undergraduate student, and diversity concerns have been that topic to do so.

There is no other group like the diversity board on SEC, so a new board would fill its own niche. Opponents to the idea have thought that there would be too much overlap between the existing groups, but we don’t agree with that assertion. USG is not capable, with the myriad of other duties with which they are tasked and their current funding setup, to effectively represent these organizations. Diversity-based groups are different enough from other student organizations in the fact that their goals are to celebrate different cultures and give those students a home; just as Greek Life (which has SEC representation) is a community for much of campus, diversity groups play the same role. This group would take over a corner of CWRU’s extracurricular life that currently has no specific representation.

While we do support the move, this support isn’t without some reservation. To be effective, this board would need to be set up correctly, and a funding structure unlike USG’s three-event system would need to be installed. Additionally, many on our staff are concerned that trying to get the board created in time for next year may be too ambitious, that further time may be needed, since installing an umbrella organization, with its rules and regulations, is a difficult task. After all, funding for next year will have been discussed at this past Thursday’s SEC meeting. While amending objects aren’t a fatal obstacle, they are still an obstacle.

However, we do believe that the leaders for this new organization are up to the challenge. A change would allow diversity and cultural groups to play a much larger role on campus, a change which we surely need.