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Press Clipping: Long SGA debates center on diversity
This article from The Sunflower at Wichita State University mentions ASGA's conferences.

Long SGA debates center on diversity

Posted: Thursday, October 8, 2015 3:10 pm | Updated: 3:12 pm, Thu Oct 8, 2015.

TJ RIgg | 0 comments

The two times Wichita State’s Student Government Association has spent significant portions of its meeting in a debate so far this year is when the discussion dealt with diversity.

The first focused on a resolution that created Wichita State Inspire, a partnership between WSU and The Boys & Girls Club of South Central Kansas. The second came during last week’s meeting involving a funding bill to send SGA senators to the National Student Leadership Diversity Conference, a subset of the American Student Government Association Conference with an emphasis on diversity training.

Student Body President Joseph Shepard said he thinks diversity has been a popular topic within SGA because it is prevalent nationwide.

“If we look at other institutions and their student government associations around the Midwestern region, you’ll also find that cultural competency is a hot button topic at those institutions,” he said.

He said attending the diversity conference will help SGA align with university President John Bardo’s sixth strategic goal for the university, which is for WSU to “be a campus that reflects — in staff, faculty and students — the evolving diversity of society.”

SGA members debated the resolution regarding Wichita State Inspire after At-Large Senator Paige Hungate expressed concern about the bill’s wording.

Hungate said she was worried the bill would be perceived as racially motivated because it specifically mentioned serving African American and Latino students in the Boys & Girls Club while not mentioning members of other races. However, she supported the resolution and merely wanted a delay before voting.

“My desire for that night was to be able to table it and then reword it so it just didn’t specify two certain groups of people, and it made it seem like it was inclusive of everyone,” she said.

Hungate was uneasy with the funding bill last week, saying she was worried SGA would not receive proper training if senators attended a conference focused on diversity. She said SGA has several issues to focus on.

“I think that specifying one of those issues, like diversity, making that into what is like the biggest issue of student government, and what should be the main thing we focus on, I thought that was problematic because student government’s role is to represent everything,” she said.

Both resolutions passed with majority votes. Wichita State Inspire passed with two dissenters, while the funding bill passed with 10 dissenters.

Dalton Glasscock, chairman of the Academics Committee, took a different point of view about the resolutions. He favored both, and said SGA’s job is to carry out the vision of the administration to make the university more diverse.

“Previous administrations have always ran student government the same and didn’t really try anything new,” he said. “I think Joseph and Khondoker [Usama] and their administration is doing a good job at challenging the status quo and really upholding the principles that they got elected on.”

Despite SGA having debates only on diversity thus far, Glasscock said SGA is not resistant to diversity — it just happens to be the one topic that has been debated.

“Neither person in a debate is trying to stifle diversity, they are just coming out of it from two different areas, two different walks of life and two different experiences,” Glasscock said.

Shepard agreed and said SGA could debate completely different topics later in the semester. He said he could see how it could be perceived that SGA is resistant to diversity, but oftentimes, it’s the wording of a resolution that starts a debate.

“Some [senators] may be against the content, some of them may want us to go back and clarify some of the terminology within the resolution,” he said.

For Hungate, topical debate by SGA members is healthy and needed.

“I think getting into these debates is beneficial to us as a student government,” she said. “It helps us in learning how to be a better student government and us learning how all constituents feel.”
American Student Government Association  

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The American Student Government Association will provide all Student Government leaders and advisors nationwide with networking, research, and information resources and will teach them how to become more effective, ethical, and influential leaders on their campuses. ASGA also will promote the advancement of SGs, conduct research as the nation’s only “SG Think Tank,” and advocate the importance of having a vibrant, autonomous Student Government organization at every institution in America.

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