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The Office for Civil Rights, changes at the Underground discussed at AS board meeting

The weekly student government round-up for the week of Oct. 21:

The upcoming visit of The Office for Civil Rights of the U.S. Department of Education (OCR) to campus as well as possible changes to the Underground programming were discussed at this week’s AS Board member meeting, Wednesday, Oct. 21.

The Office for Civil Rights: Western is under investigation for violation of Title IX, an amendment for entities that receive federal funding to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex. The OCR will visit Western’s campus Nov. 1 through Nov. 3.

Interpretations over the years have expanded to include issues of sexual violence, how universities respond and prevent and protecting students of marginalized identities, Sexual Awareness Center Assistant Coordinator A Blyth said.

Blyth made the point of the importance of making this information easily accessible to students and letting them know what, when and where the inspection will happen other than in dense email.

Ethnic Student Center Coordinator Dreya Williams said during the meeting that the student board should be mindful on how it can be difficult for them to listen to people who are without power, the board viewing from the top down.

While no decisions had been confirmed, the student board discussed in creating a work session to compile what needs to be addressed first then engages with students to talk with about the problems.

“I think all of us need, unfortunately to understand our power dynamics,” AS Board President Belina Seare said. “We can’t just expect a work session be announced because these problems are very long term and we are going to be working towards them for a long time.”

The next step is to do outreach outside of the AS organization and talk to others, Seare said.

An email will be sent to the members of the AS Research and Outreach Program to set a time to collaborate on ways to get the information out to students, ideas like posters and advertising in the Western Front having been brought up, and discuss what harmful views perpetuated by the AS organization, AS Vice President of Diversity Abby Ramos said.

Concerts at the Underground Coffeehouse: Joana Faulk, AS Productions Director, gave an overview of events that will be planned throughout the year, from the currently running Drawing Jam to concerts in the Underground Coffeehouse.

  • A two-week event in winter called “Hip Hop weeks” was also proposed by AS productions, with the idea to bring focus to the genre and culture that is mainstream in pop culture but underrepresented at Western.
  • Instead for concerts in the Underground starting at 8 p.m. until right before closing at 10 p.m., concerts will start at 7 p.m. to relieve stress off of Underground employees and not rush performers off stage Faulk said.
  • Faulk said that last year a “battle of the bands” type event called Sounds of the Underground had some problematic things in that there was a lack of representation on campus. They had improvements on outreach to students as well as looking into the submission process and judging.

Other news included:

  • Pitch to change the title of “Vagina Memoirs” to just “Memoirs” to make it more inclusive to Trans and other marginalized gender identities
  • The AS board having a newsletter published as a way for students to read what happens during meetings without having to read the minutes
  • Ethnic Student Center students are specifically asking for the Western Bookstore as the new location for the ESC. No decisions have been made, and there have been no solid proposals for a new location for the Western Bookstore.

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