ASOC opens discussion on new diversity initiative

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Students filed into Choi Auditorium for the Associated Students of Occidental College’s (ASOC) general assembly on diversity yesterday. The open discussion, led by ASOC senators Adrian Adams (sophomore), Abhilasha Bhola (junior) and Kerry Sakimoto (senior), centered on the senate’s Diversity and Equity Board Initiative (DEBI), the end of Intergroup Dialogue courses and student concerns about the Multiculural Summer Institute.

Students expressed dissatisfaction with the amount of recognition for clubs promoting diversity and equity on campus. ASOC senators presented DEBI as a solution to these concerns, and more.

DEBI would create a student panel to address diversity problems on campus. The panel would help coordinate and fund cultural clubs on campus. Students also suggested that it could compensate club presidents and help bring high-profile speakers to club meetings. In order for DEBI to be instated, it would need to pass both a student and ASOC vote by a two-thirds majority.

Students also raised concerns with the end of Occidental’s Intergroup Dialogue class. The class, taught by professor Jaclyn Rodriguez, deals with issues of race and gender identity and social conflict. Nina Monet Reynoso (junior) explained some of the reasons behind cutting the course, including its dependence on outside resources, inconvenient three-hour class period and a lack of appreciation from students.

The Multicultural Summer Institute (MSI) and Pauley, the multicultural residence hall, were also subjects of discussion.

Some students felt that Pauley’s cultural diversity has declined in recent years. The themed hall was created after MSI students requested a space in which to continue the summer program. But one two-year Pauley resident felt that Occidental now prioritizes housing for CSPs over the multi-cultural theme.

“Why let [first-year] students apply to Pauley if they won’t end up being placed there because of CSP?” the student asked.

Reynoso and Frances Delfin (sophomore) shared fears about the future of MSI in light of the departure of three professional staffers from the Intercultural Community Center (ICC). Delfin, who worked as a teacher’s aide for MSI this summer, explained that the program is currently understaffed despite having one of the largest groups of participants in the program’s history this year.

To close the discussion, senators encouraged those in attendance to have discussions with fellow students to drum up support for DEBI.