Meet the Candidate: Erick Yanzon
Running for vice president for diversity
Major: sociology and American cultural studies
Below are excerpts from an interview with The Western Front.
Why do you want to run for the AS?
“I’ve been really involved with the Ethnic Student Center since my freshman year. I’ve worked there and right now I work in the board office as the vice president for academic affairs and have done a lot of advocating for students of color. The center has been a home away from home for me and I want to advocate for continued resources for them.
“A lot of underrepresented and marginalized communities don’t have the voices that they [should], whether that’s in a classroom climate or lobbying.”
What kind of issues do you want to tackle?
“We used to have a college of ethnic studies here at Western back in the 1970s, that was around the time Huxley and, I believe, Fairhaven were established. Just a few years after [they were] established, the college of ethnic studies was defunded and obviously doesn’t exist now.
“So I am going to start having conversations about why that happened. Obviously funding, but also there was a lot of support that they didn’t get through that college and bringing it back for the experiences of the students of color that come through this campus. Their history isn’t usually talked about in public education or the curriculum, so that is something I want to start and have continue even after I leave. Also within the GURs we’re not just filling the diversity ‘box,’ but making sure that we’re taking into account the issues that students of color, queer students, and students with disabilities face on a daily basis.”
How would you address these specifically?
“Collaboration and making sure we put student voices at the forefront. I understand that we have to work through the bureaucracy of the university, and we have to do that in order to get anything done. But I feel like working with the [administrators], working with staff and working with faculty to make sure all of these things happen, [while] also making sure to centralize the voice to the students.”
What are your qualifications?
“I’ve been involved with the Ethnic Student Center and I’ve been involved with the AS and I know the structure of the organization. I am part of the board of directors currently so I know the entirety of this position and I’m aware of what the position entails, because I work closely with the current vice president of diversity.”
In what ways does Western have access issues and how do you plan on making Western more accessible?
“Currently as the VP for academic affairs, I sit on like a thousand committees and I think that’s just a problem in and of itself. The board, the seven of us, have a lot of access to all these committees and [administrators], but the students don’t. Our job description only limits us to do certain things, so we don’t get to talk to students and I feel that’s where some of the access issues come from. Besides sitting on committees I also appoint students to these committees. A lot of the times when they’re saying like, “Oh, we have this committee and we have this student in it,’ but sometimes they’re often unfilled and when we do appoint a student, they’re kind of set up for failure. A lot of the time they don’t have time to catch up the student.”
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