By Enobong Ukpong, April 19 2021—
This past week’s Students’ Legislative Council (SLC) meeting was held on April 13. The focus was on the presentation of the final report by the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Task Force, and on the future of the 2019 waste diversion pilot project.
The EDI Task Force presented its final report — a list of recommendations proposed to vice-president student life, Assad Ali Bik — that aim to improve matters of EDI in the Students’ Union (SU). These recommendations will be carried over into the 79th SLC’s VP Student Life’s responsibilities.
“We have thirteen recommendations,” said Ali Bik. “These range from training exercises to policy changes to procedural changes, and it’s a very holistic way of moving forward in an equitable, diverse and inclusive manner.”
One notable recommendation was the continued collection of data on race, gender, identity and sexuality, with the intent to advance EDI policies into the 79th SLC.
“Understanding the different intersections of the minority groups on campus will help us as a campus community develop equitable means of supporting and including all minorities,” said Keren Harrison, a member of the EDI task force.
Ganiyat Sadiq, another member of the EDI task force, recommended the creation of surveys that track the progress of new EDI policies and procedures, as well as the addition of race and gender-based data into these surveys to ensure these surveys are looked at from an intersectional lens.
Another notable recommendation was the inclusion of EDI responsibilities into the portfolio of all SU executives.
“The only executive that has, as per the bylaw, responsibilities in terms of EDI is VP Student Life,” said Isa Joffre, another member of the EDI task force. “However, we believe this is something that has to be approached by all sides within the executives.”
Joffre said that the EDI task force believes that the incorporation of these responsibilities should be reflective of the executives’ positions, for example, the VP Academic should focus on scholarships and ways to promote academic diversity, while the VP External should focus on advocacy.
“We think this is really important because this is a way that we can introduce another sense of permanence into the EDI initiatives that we’re moving along,” said Joffre. “It’s also a way to hold individuals accountable when they are not speaking towards the needs of all the students that they’re supposed to be representing.”
Joffre noted that this is a policy that is already done in practice, and this recommendation would formalize this by putting it into the SLC’s institutional governance documents.
Other recommendations discussed included the transition of the EDI task force into an official SU committee, mandatory anti-racism training for all elected SU officials and staff, the introduction of a vice-president equity position in the SLC, the inclusion of EDI content in the pre-candidate orientation for all SU-elected candidates, the requirement that every policy review must include an EDI lens, creation of the Anti-Racism policy, the explicit addressing of anti-racism in the SU strategic plan, the hiring of an EDI specialist to support SU staff and elected officials, the minimum attendance of two EDI task force meetings by SU executives and finally, the establishment and maintenance of scholarships that target diverse students, ensuring the continuation of the EDI club award.
The SLC also discussed the possible future of the waste diversion pilot project implemented by the former vice-president operations and finances, Omer Mansoor, in 2019. This one-year project included the installation of two waste diversion tables in MacHall. At the time, Mansoor had said that after a year, more steps would be taken to see if this project would continue. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has halted those plans.
“Regarding the waste tables, unfortunately, this year, due to the pandemic, there was a shortage of staff, mainly because there were no students on campus, so those weren’t implemented this year,” said Mohammed Ali, current VP OpFi. He is unsure of any updates but has said that he will reach out to the Sustainability and MacHall Operations departments to figure out what can be done moving forward.
Agendas, minutes and upcoming meetings for SLC can be found online.