Proposed diversity council presents before SEC

Vote on whether or not to go to student referendum will be held on March 19

The proposed Undergraduate Diversity Council (UDC) presented their plan to join the Student Executive Council (SEC) at the organization’s March 5 meeting. After receiving feedback and answering questions from the other boards, it was decided that they would vote at the March 19 meeting on whether or not to send the proposal to a student body referendum.

The SEC is made up of the umbrella organizations on campus, includes the president and finance chairs of USG, the University Programming Board, the University Media Board (UMB), the Class Officer Collective (COC), the Interfraternity Congress and Panhellenic Congress (IFC/PHC) and the Residence Hall Association (RHA), as well as representatives from off-the-tops Springfest, Senior Week and Thwing Study Over (TSO).

They manage the division of the Student Activities Fee (SAF), an approximately $171 per semester that each student pays on top of tuition.

“The purpose of the UDC is to serve as a platform for undergraduates to voice their concerns regarding diversity issues on our campus,” said Brittany Chung, who presented to the SEC along with Precious Amoako and Nicholas Fung.

The proposed board would encompass all organizations who fit under the eight diversity pillars: ethnicity, religion, gender, socioeconomic class, race, sexual orientation, ability and age. These organizations are currently a part of USG.

The UDC would also serve to advocate for underrepresented groups on campus, provide proactive programming and a focus on inclusion, raise awareness of the eight pillars and be a resource to external groups to help with the development of diverse and inclusive programming.

The UDC would be made up of four board members: a president, vice president, treasurer and secretary. Executive members would not be affiliated with any of the groups, to help ensure fairness. There would also be three committees: an external development committee, which meets with other SEC organizations to help put on diversity events; an internal development committee, which meets with member organizations to make sure they can put on events they want to put on; and a finance committee, which allocates funds to the groups.

There would be frequent roundtable discussions between all the groups who sit on UDC, where they can discuss issues on campus and proactive programming which can help raise awareness about them.

The new organization is requesting to get a seat on SEC, meaning that they would also get a cut of the SAF. Chung, Amoako and Fung are currently proposing that UDC be in a trial period for the fall semester, without any SAF funding, before joining SEC fully and getting a percentage of the SAF for the spring 2016 semester. During the fall semester, they would shadow other SEC organizations and their treasurers to see how to properly budget.

According to Fung, groups that fit under the eight pillars currently get around $43,000 a semester from USG’s mass funding, plus an estimated $10,000 from rolling funding and $11,000 to $12,000 from cosponsorships with other SEC organizations. Their hope is to have 95 percent of this money come with them to their new organizations. They are also asking for a minor increase in allocation for their first semester to help with overhead costs.

Chung, Amoako and Fung hope that splitting from USG into a new board will allow them to fund cultural groups better. The goal is for the finance committee will meet with groups individually each semester to make sure they are meeting their goals. They also hope that they will be able to easier plan collaborative events and better fund larger events, which tend to be very popular on campus.

However, according to Chung, the main point of the UDC is not for funding, it is for awareness.

“We want to ensure that this is a permanent body that is visible, that has some influence on our campus,” she said. “One of UDC’s main goals is to serve as a platform for concerns to be voiced.”

Some members of the SEC expressed concerns about the funding portion of the organization and whether remaining under USG for that portion would be better. However, most were in support of the idea of the board being added, especially with regards to advocacy.

“By having UDC as separate, diversity can stop being a reactionary issue on campus,” said Nabeel Mallick, executive chair of UMB. “It can be an ongoing discussion throughout the year.”

At the March 19 meeting, the SEC will vote on whether or not there should be a student referendum about UDC. If they vote yes, there will be a vote where students can say whether or not they want UDC to sit on SEC. If that vote goes through, UDC will join the board.