Letter to the Editor from Karim Sharif on DEB

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To the Editor,

I hope to effectively express the necessity of funding the Diversity and Equity Board (DEB). Those who have the institutional memory to do so recall the tremendous effort of students and faculty to establish and fund DEB in the spring semester of 2015. However, not all of the demands issued at the time have been met. There is still what may be considered less than minimal funding for DEB, which has received a mere $500 operating budget thus far, with no guarantee of further funding after the end of the 2015–16 school year. At this point, DEB cannot function as a branch of student government on such a minimal amount of funding. Simply put, it cannot serve the parts of the school it aims to assist in any capacity. There are entire events or programs that are put on that should in some part be funded by DEB, but instead are exclusively supplemented by another division of student government or the administration. While these sources of funding are incredibly useful and serve a purpose, DEB could ease the burdens of fundraising and increase the amount of available funding for students to put on programs.

A variety of student organizations and identity groups on campus need DEB to be funded in order to host the programming they desire. But the need for DEB to be funded extends far deeper than a matter of programming. For many, DEB’s funding in its current state is representative of the fact that our school is not hearing the needs of its marginalized students. For many, DEB’s current funding dilemma is the manifestation of what may only be classified as a lack of attention to the sectors of the school that routinely bring speakers, host events, and collaborate almost perpetually to provide a significant portion of campus life. DEB’s lack of funding can only be concluded as an active refusal to support students who are working hard to contribute in every way they can. Even after endless fundraising (frequently met with some degree of disfavor for the level of fundraising done), students must often appeal to a variety of funding options to fix shortfalls left in their budgets. It is vital that these students are given another form of supplementary funding to allow this work to continue and to allow for these students to feel appropriately and well-deservedly represented.

Time and time again we have heard of groups not receiving funding for unfair or unjust reasons; time and time again we see these folks have to realize that trying their hardest still risks falling short for reasons they cannot control. It is at these times that the branch of student government specifically designed to be both inclusive and ensure that projects concerning all identity groups are appropriately funded. With DEB appropriately supported, Occidental will further its legacy of excellence, and will continue to take steps toward being the progressive, inclusive and just environment its students need and demand.

Sincerely,

Karim Sharif, Class of 2018