The Student Government (SG) Senate introduced a bill at a meeting on Tuesday that would establish a new committee in SG: The Student Government Diversity Council (SGDC).
If established, the SGDC will meet at least once a month in order to “ensure that every student at the University of South Florida has their voice heard through Student Government,” as stated in the bill.
The concept first came up during campaigning by former student body president candidate Michael Malanga. One of the major points of his platform was to create a diversity council to improve SG’s representation of the students and their concerns.
While Malanga’s ticket was not elected, Sen. AlaEldean Elmunaier wrote a bill for the formation of this 12-member committee.
“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. “When I first came to SG and USF in general, I heard way too many stories, and even personal stories … they [students from diverse backgrounds] always felt (SG) isn’t their place and that it’s hard for them to get involved or even speak to their representative.”
As it currently stands, the committee will include 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, director of Student Government Advising, 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.
Some senators raised the concern that with such a diverse population, only three student representatives would not be able to fulfill the committee’s full mission of representing all students. Elmunaier responded with a hope to grow the committee once it is instated to incorporate more students.
Another concern raised was that SG should already fulfill the committee’s mission, along with the question of how the establishment of a new committee would be any different.
“We need to represent all students on this campus,” Elmunaier said in response. “As an SG official you, are here to represent all the students on this campus to the best of your ability. The second point is that … this is something that will bridge the gap.”
The committee’s goal would be to have an “open dialogue with topics for discussion sent in by any member of the council,” as long as the point is submitted prior to the meeting.
According to the Senate Rules of Procedure, needs to be read to the Senate two more times before it can call for a vote.