WCSA President: why Westmont needs a Diversity and Inclusion Senator
Views 35 | Time to read: 3 minutes | Uploaded: 10 - 4 - 2017 | By: Benjamin Peterson
My fellow students, I want to take a moment to explain how the WCSA Diversity and Inclusion Senator came to be, and why we are fully committed to this position.
This is my final year at Westmont, and my third in Student Government (WCSA). Last year, one of the things that many of us noticed was the lack of diversity (specifically students of color) in WCSA. While we used to have a Multicultural Representative, the position was removed some years ago when the Senate was created. The reasoning at the time for removing the Multicultural Representative was that the senators would be able to fill the representation gap. But that was wishful thinking. While sitting in an almost all white WCSA last year, some members would roll their eyes when issues concerning diversity or ICP would come up. And for many of us who witnessed the scoffing, it didn’t seem right.
My friend and current GLC Senator, Grant Bradford, recently told me: “Benny, I know different people will bring up issues I can’t relate to. And if students of color are underrepresented, why not have someone who can do it better than me?” Grant nailed it on the head. For a school where 40 percent of the students are people of color, it was striking to many of us that over 90 percent of WCSA members last year where white. And last year was not unique; it’s been a trend for quite a few now. The lack of diversity within WCSA prevents us from being as effective in representation as we could be. So the question is, how do we create the space in our representative body to hear more voices?
When our members sit on college committees that make decisions for the future of our institution, we need broad perspectives. When we meet on Tuesday evenings to discuss issues that concern our college, we need people who have different outlooks, backgrounds, and life experiences to make our team stronger. Armed with a desire to better represent the voice of the Westmont student body, we set about to bring back the Multicultural Representative — a position that deals with issues of diversity and speaks for students who are all too often underrepresented on campus.
Just as the Senate was created four years ago when WCSA passed an amendment and had the student body ratify it, so too was the ‘Diversity and Inclusion Senator’ created. We consulted the old job description of the position and formed a committee to propose the constitutional and bylaw change (both of which are available on our website). Finally, after much deliberation, the WCSA Senate unanimously passed the amendment on Sept. 5, 2017. For those who missed it, that particular meeting was packed with observers (some of whom had to sit on the floor when we ran out of chairs). On Sept. 14, the Westmont student body ratified the constitutional change with a 95 percent approval vote.
For these things, we make no apologies.
WCSA believes in Westmont college. We believe in the students at this place. We desire to hear all voices on our campus. And we believe in pushing back against the effects of the Fall, the ugly divisions around us, in order to bring the Westmont student body ever closer together through courageous, wholehearted listening. The reinstatement of the Diversity and Inclusion Senator is an effort to hear often-marginalized voices. And by God’s grace, we will continue to build even better shalom at Westmont.