UW Branches Band Together to Address Student Concerns On Diversity

Since its establishment in 1982, the Washington Student Association (WSA) has been an advocate to the interests of students attending public post-second­ary colleges in the state of Washington. The student-led organization has ac­cumulated 150,000 students over the years and continues to grow.

WSA looks to improve higher edu­cation, making it affordable and acces­sible for students in Washington. In previous years the organization has lobbied in Olympia, during legislative sessions, to rally in support of the Dream Act and Voter Access. According to WSA’s website they make up a collective 10 college campuses with 13 members.

Recently, this organization shifted its focus towards racial and ethnic di­versity across UW campuses and re­source distribution. The WSA has pro­posed a new initiative that would unite the three UW branches—Seattle, Ta­coma, and Bothell—to address these concern.

The WSA has recently spurred the UW Tri-Campus Diversity Initiative that is led by the student government presidents from all three UW campus­es: Sophie Nop (UW Tacoma), Domi­nick Juarez (UW Bothell), and Chris­tina Xiao (UW Seattle). Each campus must create a Diversity Taskforce of student body leaders. However, the UWT Diversity Taskforce is not yet fully operational.

Each UW president is leading the process of creating a Diversity Taskforce that includes student body leaders. The group will collaborate to collect and relay information about needed re­sources to a Diversity Committee, which will discuss and attempt to resolve the issues before sharing them with WSA for statewide consideration and action.

The initiative involves resource man­agement for veterans, racial and ethnic groups, clubs, and other student orga­nizations across the three campuses. For instance, the UW Bothell campus lacks a Returning Student Center. This makes it difficult for returning students to re­ceive the proper counselling.

Sophie Nop, explains in a nutshell what Tri-Campus Diversity aims to achieve: “We want to create a report for what diversity looks like for all cam­puses. We are trying to establish that we are all students and we are all equal.”

Nop says that after speaking with UWT Black Student Union (BSU), she realizes it is important for certain mar­ginalized groups of students to be rep­resented well in the faculty. She explains that UWT will be using their new Di­versity Taskforce to make the campus faculty more diverse. She expects these potential new professors will have excel­lent qualifications and add more racial diversity to the faculty at UWT.

Nop says that between all three cam­puses, UW has around 50,000 students. According to Nop, the Tri-Campus Diversity Initiative will expand to influ­ence all the students in the state with better resource management.

“This will get Olympia’s attention!” Nop says. She went on to explain that in order for the state capital to make serious reform you need a large body of student support.

Nop has been communicating with the student body presidents at UW Se­attle and Bothell about the Diversity Initiative, and says the UW is very lucky to have three presidents that all want to work together to ensure that UW uni­versities meet the needs of diverse stu­dent groups and funds and resources are equitably allocated.

“I’m excited to work with the other student body presidents and discuss the implications of the Diversity Initiative” Nop says. She continued to explain that in order for this initiative to be success­ful it is essential that student leadership from all UW campuses work together.

The Diversity Committee will be holding their first meeting regarding the Initiative on November 21st at the UW Seattle campus. Presidents Nop and Juarez will hold additional meetings in Tacoma and Bothell on as-of-yet un­specified dates to ensure that they can properly assess the unique concerns and resource deficiencies at all UW campuses.