ASB holds inclusion meeting to raise awareness for minority organizations

Posted on Oct 22 2018 - 5:50am by Madison Hyatt

The Associated Student Body held a meeting for its Inclusive Community Initiative on Friday, a new council created to increase awareness of minority organizations on campus and foster an environment where those organizations can discuss issues and cultivate connections.

This was the second meeting of the council, and members of the Black Student Union and the UM Pride Network were present in addition to members of other campus minority organizations.

UM Pride VP Brenna Paola (right) and QPOC Director Malik Ra’shaad Pridgeon (left) hand out free condoms and candy to students on Business Row as part of Zero Discrimination Day. The day is designed to help promote STI prevention. Photo by Rachel Ishee

The discussion focused primarily on ways in which ASB can further support the LGBTQ community on campus and address social barriers those students face.

Swetha Manivannan, director of the Inclusion and Cross-Cultural Engagement Council, said she believes the council will be beneficial to both ASB and minority organizations.

“Oftentimes, minority organizations don’t know what’s happening with other minority organizations, and ASB doesn’t know the best ways that we can help,” Manivannan said. “ASB really wants to make this campus more diverse, inclusive and increase our role in helping facilitate those connections between minority organizations.”

In addition to increasing minority awareness, the council will aid in improving relationships between all student organizations, ASB President Elam Miller said.

“I think in the past few years, a lot of people have the opinion that ASB isn’t the most inclusive or that it isn’t actually representative of the entire student body,” Miller said. “We want to take steps to change that. We held this meeting today in order to take steps to make sure that all members of the university family are having their voices heard.”

UM Pride Network president Brenna Paola said the Inclusive Community Initiative is the most outreach to minorities she has seen from ASB.

“I think that this has been the most I’ve been able to coordinate with ASB since my time here,” Paola said. “I served as vice president (of the UM Pride Network) in the 2017-2018 academic year. I don’t think that when I was vice president we worked this closely together and I don’t think that the communication was as tightly knit.”

Paola said she also believes the initiative has the potential to be successful.

“I think when we start to include each and every person of every identity, we have a better opportunity to learn about things in a safe space,” Paola said. “I definitely think that we’re starting to go in the right direction.”

According to Miller, communication is an important step for bettering student relationships on campus.

“I think that today we learned that it seemed like communication, not just within ASB, but with student organizations and different opportunities we have on campus definitely could use some revamping,” Miller said. “Today, I think that we learned that we should advocate for new ways of increasing communications.”

The next Inclusive Community Initiative meeting will take place on Nov. 16.