A group of students that intends to be a voice for marginalized students is now accepting applications. At the end of the semester, the group hopes to be a functioning body alongside student government.
The Equity, Transformation, and Accountability Board is meant to streamline the process that many students have taken to advocate for support for underrepresented groups on campus.
According to Valerie Melson ‘17, who spearheaded the creation of the board and a list of concerns addressed to Byerly last semester, members of the board were concerned with how it would function alongside student government.
However, according to an email from Vice President of Campus Life Annette Diorio, student government has been supportive of this initiative, including passing a resolution earlier this year indicating their support for the board.
According to Melson, while the board itself will focus more on matters associated with diversity on campus, it will also collaborate with student government to address the need for increased resources and support for students.
What the collaboration will come down to is open communication, Melson said. She added that this communication will be facilitated by a liaison between the two bodies, who will likely be the intercultural chair. This person will not serve on the new board, however.
The creation of this board was something included in the original list of concerns presented to the administration in December. The list was created by several groups on campus who represent different marginalized identities in order to improve conditions and address several of their concerns.
“In the beginning, I didn’t necessarily see how important it would be, but in hindsight I think it is the most important piece, if not one of the most important pieces for the list of concerns and that’s because it institutionalizes how students raise issues with the campus,” Melson said.
Members of the board are set to be decided and functioning with the new Dean of Equity and Inclusion Chris Hunt by fall 2017.
Fayola Fair ‘19 was also integral to the creation of the original list of concerns and feels this board will help ensure that the concerns brought up in December of this school year will continue to be addressed in a steady, progressive manner.
“We know that a lot of the concerns are for way later in the future, for example, you know, rebuilding Portlock, having a multicultural center, things that logistically will take a lot more time,” Fair said.
According to an email from Diorio, the selection of the board will be made by students who created the initial list of concerns.
Melson is one of those members who will be helping select the new board. She also is the one who made the application and finalized it with both Hunt and Diorio.
According to Melson, Hunt will also be a part of the selection process. Any students involved with the list of concerns that chose to apply are relinquishing their position to help select board members to avoid conflicts of interest.
As of now there are 12 positions available on the board to be dispersed evenly amongst sophomores, juniors and seniors. The 12 students will be designated as a co-chair of one of the six committees focused on concerns from the list including academic, faculty and staffing concerns, housing, diversity training concerns, college budgeting and institutional concerns.
Additionally, there will also be an alumni representative on the board. According to Melson, while board position will mostly likely be re-elected every year, it’s possible that the alumni representative will be re-elected in four-year intervals.
Both Melson and Fayola said they feel that this board is an important step forward for the college and a representation of the administration’s willingness to listen to student concerns and ideas.
“As the College seeks to both grow and continue to diversify, it is important that we continuously assess our programs and policies and to work to align our resources to provide the best experience for all students at the College,” she wrote.