SA Senate urges GW to mandate in-person diversity training

Media Credit: Grace Hromin | Photographer

SA Sen. Raina Hackett, CCAS-U and the chair of the diversity and inclusion assembly, sponsored a resolution calling on the University to require in-person diversity training for students.

Updated: Oct. 9, 2019 at 10:51 p.m.

The Student Association Senate passed a resolution Monday pressing the University to require that all students participate in cultural competency education training.

SA senators urged officials to implement a “cultural competency” component of the University’s general education requirements and mandate in-person diversity training for students. The legislation comes after a racist Snapchat surfaced from a sorority president’s account, prompting condemnation from student leaders. 

The resolution asks that officials and “historically white Greek councils” publicly acknowledge their racial histories and calls on officials to adopt a “behavior unbecoming” policy that discourages acts of discrimination. 

SA Sen. Raina Hackett – CCAS-U, the sponsor of the resolution and the chair of the diversity and inclusion assembly – said SA members are in talks with Jordan West, the director for diversity and inclusion education, about implementing diversity and inclusion trainings for students and student organizations multiple times throughout the academic year.

She said diversity and inclusion training currently in place for freshmen is “not effective” and should include in-person training. First-year students are required to complete online diversity training that runs through instances of discrimination and hate on campus and asks students how they would handle the situation. 

“We need to have in-person training in place all the time to make sure that everybody is aware of these issues on campus,” Hackett said.

The SA Senate also approved a resolution asking the University to formally acknowledge an interfaith prayer and meditation space in the Multicultural Student Services Center that opened about a year ago.

Zachary Nosanchuk, the vice president for interfaith engagement and a Hatchet opinions writer, said the resolution encourages the director of interfaith engagement to ensure the space is maintained and updated. The legislation also asks MSSC officials to notify SA leaders of any potential changes made to the space and list the prayer room on the center’s website, he said. 

“We were concerned that possibly through some changes in facilities then the MSSC could just get rid of it,” he said. “We thought that if we institutionalize it in the SA’s words, it would keep it here.”

The senate also updated the body’s vacancy process to require that the SA’s executive vice president notify senators about a senate vacancy within five days of a senator’s resignation. Senators must consider candidates to fill open seats by the second full senate meeting after the governance and nominations committee makes its recommendations for candidates, the bill states. 

Senators codified the Colonial Moniker Task Force, a five-student committee that will research potential names to replace the Colonial. Former SA senator and pro tempore André Gonzales left his post to spearhead the committee. 

The senate nominated SA Sen. Brandon Hill, CCAS-U; SA Sen. Joshua Kim, CPS-G and the senate pro tempore; Hackett, CCAS-U and the diversity and inclusion assembly chair; and SA Sen. Howard Brookins, U-at-Large, to serve on the task force. 

The senate also approved one student leader to serve on the diversity and inclusion assembly, elected a chair for the Joint Elections Commission – the body that oversees SA elections – and approved two students to serve on the senate’s staff. Senators selected three members of the SA to serve on the Faculty Senate committee. 

Senators will reconvene for a special meeting next week to decide whether the SA fairly represents graduate students. An SA senator filed a lawsuit in April accusing the body of unfairly representing graduate students.

Editors note: This post was updated to better reflect Raina Hackett’s title. 

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