Bringing together representatives from different cultural groups on campus, GUSA debuted its Multicultural Council during a town hall session held on Sept. 23.
The Multicultural Council’s leadership team, led by GUSA Director of Outreach Eng Gin Moe (SFS ’16), took turns discussing the ins-and-outs of their newly minted council, stressing its role as a unified front for advocacy on issues of culture, ethnicity, race, and diversity. Moe and her fellow leaders spent a portion of the evening appealing directly to cultural groups on campus—many of whom had members in attendance—asking them to sign up for the Multicultural Council’s committees and initiatives.
GUSA President Trevor Tezel (SFS ’15) initially proposed the idea for a Multicultural Council during the election last semester. “One of the things Omika [Jikaria] and I gathered when we were talking to student groups was the lack of prioritization and attention given to the needs of cultural groups on campus,” Tezel said.
The Multicultural Council aims to create a stronger relationship between GUSA, student cultural groups, and university administration.
“We really hope this Multicultural Council can really facilitate forum and act as an advocacy body through GUSA,” said GUSA Vice President Omika Jikaria (SFS ’15).
The Council will be divided into four working groups that will meet biweekly, according to MC Deputy Chair and GUSA Deputy Director of Outreach Rodrigo Gonzales (SFS ‘15). The working groups are open to all students and will address multicultural groups’ academic, funding, institutional, and programming and outreach issues.
Tezel, Jikaria, and Moe also worked with Vice President of Student Affairs Todd Olson in order to create a Cultural Board Working Group. According to Moe, the goals of this group are to address the challenges faced by multicultural groups, explore alternative funding structures, and potentially implement a Cultural Advisory Board during the 2016 fiscal year.
The Cultural Board Working Group does not provide funding to student groups as other advisory boards do. It will be working, nonetheless, to make funds more accessible to multicultural groups. “One of the avenues we’ll look at to address the problems cultural groups face is possibly the creation of a new advisory board,” said Moe. “We could be sitting at the table at [Council of Advisory Boards], giving out money to cultural groups, instead of SAC.”
When asked during the town hall about whether the Council’s lobbying will affect student groups disproportionately, Gonzales expressed confidence in the equity of the MC’s efforts. “This Council gives support to voices which historically haven’t been heard,” said Gonzales. “It’s not a question of whether we’re giving more weight to one group … we wish to treat all issues as equally important.”