Diversity council great first step, not final goal

The Student Government (SG) Senate introduced a bill Tuesday night hoping to further unite the campus by creating a new committee called the Student Government Diversity Council (SGDC). 

Though well-intended, the concept needs serious reworking before it will be truly successful for USF.

This idea was originally introduced by student body vice president Michael Malanga as one of the major points of his platform. He felt such a council will improve SG’s relationship with students and help pinpoint what the true concerns of students on campus were.

Though Malanga was not elected, Sen. AlaEldean Elmunaier took up the cause by writing a bill for the creation of the council and introducing it to the Senate.

“I thought this was completely relevant to (SG) and thus completely something that can really assist people from diverse backgrounds,” Elmunaier said at the meeting. 

However, several Senators argue SG shouldn’t need a separate committee to ensure they are diverse on campus. And yet similar councils are used across the country to ensure every student has a voice on campus.

At the University of Washington (UW), a diversity council advises the UW president and coordinates diversity programs and initiatives on campus.

Cleveland State, Cornell, Webster, Ohio State and others have councils that simply ensure the university doesn’t ignore prevalent issues and prevents them from wasting time and resources on issues that may not actually be campus-wide.

According to an article in The Oracle, the proposed council will consist of “ three students appointed by the student body president, along with a representative from the Office of Multicultural Affairs, the dean of students, director of ombuds and the director of Student Government Advising.”

It will also include the “Training and Operations and director of the Office of Diversity, Inclusion and Equal Opportunity. The other four members would be the student body president and vice president, the Senate president and the Senate president pro tempore.”

This is where one of the major problems occurs. Obviously having only three students to represent the entire student body would not be extremely efficient. Elmunaier promised, however, once the committee was instated they would begin to grow to fully represent campus. 

The council is also unique from the others across the country because it is mainly made up of non-students. The entire point of having a diversity council is so students can make sure SG and administration are aware of exactly what ails the student body. 

You need students to be able to accomplish this.

Another issue lies in the channel between the average student on campus and the committee. This committee is supposed to allow students who may not feel comfortable approaching senators with issues they’ve seen on campus to have someone they can easily speak to. 

There needs to be either open forums once a month in a popular area like the amphitheater, or a public event that allows all students to lend their voice to what USF should focus on. 

Over 48,000 students are enrolled at USF. It should be the university’s top priority to ensure no one is excluded while earning his or her degree. If SG is prepared to put in the time to modify the concept, the council could easily become a huge asset.

However, if they simply reject the idea students will continue to fall through the cracks, and if they quickly pass it through without modification, it will without a doubt end up becoming a useless committee.