Student government plans multicultural events for students, trainings for Senate members

Events are set to get started in October

Student government plans multicultural events for students, trainings for Senate members

Sarem Haq (right) and Trevor Pugh (left) speak at a recent Senate meeting in September. 

Student Government’s diversity office is bringing a swath of new events and initiatives to the organization this fall, including events for students of color and trainings for members of the SG Senate.

Rafael Cestero, the director of SG’s Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, created a new deputy director position in order to expand on its mission. The new deputy director, Starrchild Jackson, will assist Cestero in any projects the department is working on.

One of the new events the organization is hosting are “multicultural family gatherings,” for AU’s “family” of diverse students. These gatherings will be hosted in conjunction with the Center for Diversity and Inclusion (CDI) as a space for students of color and from underrepresented communities. “There isn’t always a direct crisis that needs to be responded to, but communities still want to engage with each other,” Cestero said. “That’s kind of the mission of this … to tackle that there’s no space where we feel comfortable or being ourselves.”

Cestero said all he wants to do is create a space where people can “socialize and chat,” without a specific agenda. He aims to find out what attendees are interested in and what they hope to see at the gatherings, but for now, he’ll just try to create a welcoming space.

Cestero said that he worked closely with Tiffany Speaks, the senior director of CDI, to make the gatherings happen. The first of these gatherings was a study session on Sunday, Sept. 30 in the Mary Graydon Center.

At the end of the spring semester, Cestero put together a report outlining the internal diversity and inclusion of Student Government, The Eagle previously reported. Cestero said the proportion of diverse members in the organization was “greater than expected,” but inclusion of those members was “lacking.”

With that in mind, Cestero is working on identity trainings for the SG Senate. The training will be centered around internal biases and how to represent marginalized communities while recognizing their struggles.

These trainings will likely begin in late October, although both Cestero and Jackson are still working on crafting the program. Jackson said the identity trainings were key in his decision to join the program.

“[The trainings are] so important to make sure that the Senate, who are the representatives of AU students, is respectful of all people and all people’s opinions” Jackson said.

With the academic year just beginning, the department has several unannounced projects in the works. Now equipped with an expanded staff and mission, they have lofty goals for the coming year, but to start, Jackson said they’re trying to get a feel for the campus and the needs of the new class.

dpapscun@theeagleonline.com and aweinstein@theeagleonline.com

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