Orlando Williams, Contributing Writer
“How long did it take African Americans to gain the right to vote in this country?” was a question that was posed to me during a sit down meeting with the Vice President of the Student Association Jacob Donnell. I met with Donnell and Even Englander, the Student Association president on February 14 in the Student Association office. I wanted to meet with Evan to discuss the proposed constitutional amendment made by the Committee for Social Justice that was ultimately declined by the Executive Board.
The Committee for Social Justice has been trying to work with the Student Association but was given only a week’s notice to come up with solutions that would benefit the campus. The Student Association did make an attempt to reach out by email once during the winter recess, but in reality when someone says, and I quote, “I have very limited access to email and oh by the way I will be in Miami” it can only be assumed that members of the SA are not interested and it shows how committed SA members really are when it comes to facing their constituents and dealing with their problems.
Constitutional changes that were proposed by CSJ would have created a committee within the SA that would have focused on multicultural issues; the very same reason why more than 50 students stormed the SA meeting in October. There is NOTHING in the new constitution that was “voted on” last week that focuses on the real problems on this campus. Furthermore, how can the SA claim to be inclusive of all corners of the student body when they voted to amend the constitution? The constitution was not digitized and readable by the entire student body, instead students had to go to the SA office on its schedule and vote in person. Why couldn’t the voting of the new Constitution be digitized by using our beloved Campus Connection?
So as scholars of social science we have to dissect the question that was posed to me during this meeting on that cold February evening. Is Jake Donnell equating the struggle of students of color on this campus, in wanting a voice to generations of subordination and dominance of one race over the other? Did Jake mean “even though we both pay the same tuition I have my rights as a white man and you don’t” or is he really saying “nah-nah-nah boo-boo you’re black and enslaved and I’m white and free?”
I want to believe that what Jake meant to say is “change is progressive and things are not going to happen over night, but we need to make the right decisions together.” In a another lifetime I would’ve agree to that but as it stands now I am one of the student leaders of a group that consists of but is not limited to gay, international, religious, transsexual, transgender, overall multicultural students who are not being represented by the Student Association or respected by the college administration. So far the SA has stated in referring to CSJ “what we want doesn’t make any sense” and “there would be no room for another director of multiculturalism in the Student Association office.”
The SA is not working with students; rather they are minimizing our input. By not allowing students to say what they want, and not have policies reflect what the demographic make up of this campus is, the SA is subordinating students and the policies as they currently stand reflect their white priviledges.
Multiculturalism is not a jewel that is cherished on this campus and diversity programs are ineffective. The Student Association rarely if ever put on a program that focused on multiculturalism or diversity, rather they tend to focus on “speed dating” and “wonder winter lands”. multiculturalism is a diamond in the rough on this campus, it will take true believers of acceptance and inclusion to steer Oneonta away from its dark history. The burden however of steering this vessel cannot be placed in the hands of the same people who ran it aground; for far too long students have been dictated to and mismanaged, it’s time for students to step up and take the wheel. It is also important that the pilots who steered this ship into disaster accept their failures and allow others to redirect them to coach.
Oneonta students, we are all unique. No matter what crisis we face in our lifetime it can only be recognized as legitimate if we do not allow crisis to consume our very being. We can’t let people dictate how we should feel; we all have the right to express who we are whether we are from Kingston or Kawasaki. Embrace who you are, stand up to those who attempt to pacify our views and disrespect our ideology.”
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