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Sunday, May 9, 2021

Student proposes caucus for student employees of color

By Alyssa Evans

An Associated Students proposal would provide students of color employed by the AS with designated time to meet and participate in discussions of identity and inclusion within the organization.

The proposal, drafted by Abby Ramos, the AS vice president for diversity, would create a caucus space for students of color during AS’ pre-quarter training sessions.

“The need for an AS Student of Color Employee Caucus space is extreme,” Ramos wrote in the proposal.

Currently, there are about 25 student of color employees out of more than 100 employees, according to the proposal.

“A lot of students [of color] have talked to me about having issues with advisers within the AS or having issues with other student employees or not feeling safe on campus,” Ramos said. “Having the caucus space is a time for us to come talk and to hear from other students who also might be experiencing that.”

The Western Front contacted nine AS advisers, but all either declined to comment or were not available by the time of publication.

Ramos participated in a mock caucus with two other employees during employee training in September 2015.

“It ended up being a really great space — probably one of the least hostile spaces I’ve ever been involved in,” Ramos said. “Coming out of that space we wanted to make sure that we were able to continue to meet when we wanted to.”

AS Communications Director Kelly Mason said the AS is 100 percent supportive of the caucus, as it aligns with the university’s commitment to diversity.

“It’s a huge step, but there is still a lot of work that the AS and Western needs to do to improve life for students of color on campus,” Mason said.

At every pre-quarter training that the AS holds, the caucus would be able to meet and discuss. The caucus would also send “recommendations to Personnel and the Board of Directors around behaviors happening within the AS,” according to Ramos’ proposal.

While the proposal was created with a focus towards students of color within the AS, it also ensures that the caucus space would be open to any identity. The proposal abides by Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibit discrimination based on race, color or national origin in programs or activities that receive federal funding.

“That law came into play from keeping people of color out of spaces and having segregation, but that law is primarily here to protect that that doesn’t happen again,” Ramos said. “By creating this proposal and getting it approved by the board, it’s known that this law is targeted, or focused more specifically for an identity. However, we’re not going to be keeping anyone out who doesn’t identify that way.”

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