In efforts to promote diversity, equity and inclusion on campus, the Student Government Association has created a new leadership position and increased funding for DEI learning opportunities.
“We wanted to, along with everybody globally right now, pay more attention to diversity, equity and inclusion which is so important,” said SGA president Kaelinn Sabline.
“We want to be involved in that movement, obviously, because that is what our students want. So, we need to evolve with our students.”
The DEI officer will have the responsibility of promoting involvement of campus organizations concerning diversity in SGA. The position was recently vacated by Gracie Watson due to an internship conflict.
“This is a new role that we just implemented under this past administration. So, we really want to make sure that we set a good foundation for this new DEI who is coming in,” said Sabline.
The role of the DEI officer is to work with culture and diversity-based organization on campus to create liaisons with SGA. These students will act as spokespeople to SGA so that its organizations can be properly represented.
“It’s an important thing for us to have,” said Vice President Stephen Malone. “It’s nice to have so many different viewpoints. People come at issues from different angles, and a DEI chair specifically gives us the ability to do that from a lens of not just diversity, but also equity and inclusion.”
One campus organization the new DEI officer looks to work with is the Black Student Association.
“It’s one thing to talk about creating change and having committees and having liaisons and things like that, which is great,” said Marcus Knight, social media coordinator for BSA. “We do need to have people in those spaces. We need to have multiple people at the table. making these decisions, not just being the face of the decisions, but actually making them.”
SGA already partnered with BSA to fund one of its events: King Day in Memphis, Tennessee.
Members toured the Lorraine Motel, where Martin Luther King Jr. was shot, and walked down historic Beale Street.
“When we see something, like you giving half the funding for a trip to Memphis so that we can better understand our history and be immersed in that, that’s part of the action we’re asking for,” said Knight. “The end goal is equity across the board for everybody. Regardless of race, ethnicity, ability or lack of ability, etc. We want equity across the board. Everybody should be able to come to Belmont and have an equal experience."
Despite the recent successes of the partnership, Knight is wary of campus organizations, such as SGA, becoming too comfortable in the work it is doing in DEI.
“We have to be careful, especially as a predominantly white institution, to not walk into the area of OK, we’ve checked off the box. OK, we put one diverse person on the main thing. And that’s it,” said Knight. “We have to be careful to not let that be the end.”
This article was written by Katie Beth Cannon