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A group of students drafted a constitution for a Multicultural Action Coalition and presented it to the Student Government Association Thursday, May 2; the creation of this coalition will be held to a vote Thursday, May 8.
Chamario McMichael and Nigel Golden—two students who helped to draft the constitution for the proposed coalition—said the goal of this group is threefold.
“Goal number one is to help change campus climate. The second goal, which is one of the major goals, is to focus on policy initiatives regarding multicultural issues on campus,” McMichael said. “The third goal of the group is action, to look at some of the issues that students are faced with on campus.”
In the proposed constitution, it is explained that the coalition would include one representative from 12 inclusivity-based University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point student organizations. Golden explained that this approach offers a unique set of benefits.
“One thing that comes to my mind is communication between all of these different entities that work with inclusivity,” Golden said. “I think the main problem is that you have all these conversations about inclusivity all in different places on campus. One thing that this group would do is encourage and bring together communication between all these separate entities that work on inclusivity.”
McMichael explained that the proposed group would most likely function as a shared governance body. This means that any piece of legislation passed by the coalition would be, under law, recognized and carried out by the university. McMichael said that the proposed coalition would be an efficient decision-making body.
“It would act as an independent policy board under Diversity and College Access. In the decision making process, it would bring all the effective students together, sit them down at the decision making table to help plan for the future,” McMichael said. “I think that’s huge to have students of color, whether they identify with LGBTQ groups, Hispanic, or international students, to sit them at the table to see what works.”
The students who attended the SGA meeting on May 2 waited through two-and-a-half hours of meeting before they were given the opportunity to express their proposal. Over the past week, the proposal of a coalition like this has been met with concern. SGA’s Inclusivity Director Mark Moua, who heads up the Inclusivity Committee, pointed out that the proposed group would be similar to what he does through the SGA office.
“I went to all these multicultural orgs, and I asked for a representative from each. In my group, I do not have that. That’s what my concern is. What they’re trying to do is rename my committee, but the idea is still the same.”
Moua stressed that he saw the good in the idea, and pointed out that the platform of the Ryan Specht and David Boardman SGA presidential campaign was the promotion of inclusivity. Moua said he recognized the benefits a group like this would offer campus, but said he is unsure about student involvement, based on his experiences.
“In a sense I could see students being more involved because of the recent changes in inclusivity on campus. That’s a good thing, but it’s hard to see this in the long run,” Moua said.
Andy Quaschnick, caucus chair of the college of letters and science and advertising director of The Pointer—who will hold a vote on the May 9 vote—speaking as a student with his own opinion, said that a group like this would be better on a trial basis.
“I want this to work. I want students to feel that they are safe, and I want students to know they have a place to go when stuff happens,” Quaschnick said. “I’d love to try this on a trial basis. Next year we make this committee underneath something else we already have and we try it. If they show up, if they all work really hard, after a year or two, we could probably turn this into something bigger.”
Quaschnick pointed out that groups such as this proposed coalition already exist in the form of Moua’s Inclusivity Committee and UWSP’s University Centers Advisory Policy Board, which claims to provide a positive campus climate for University Centers by addressing or initiating change regarding issues presented to it.
This proposed coalition is presented in the form of a statute, meaning that it would not be terminated unless it was repealed. This is in contrast to a resolution, which would terminate at the end of the academic year. Quaschnick said that this is a heavy piece of legislation to be presented two weeks before the end of the semester.
McMichael said that if this coalition is not approved by SGA on Thursday, it will make a statement about the SGA’s attitude regarding inclusivity.
“If they vote this down, it states that they are for inclusivity, but when it comes to the nitty gritty, you’re not for it,” McMichael said.
It creates the image that this university is content with where we are at,” Golden said.