Undergraduate Student Government introduces diversity, inclusivity committee

Maricela Murillo, Senior Reporter

Undergraduate Student Government has created a student life subcommittee that will focus on inclusivity and equality in both USG and on the Tulane campus. The USG executive board selected senior Sarah Spiegelman to head the subcommittee as the director of inclusive excellence and equality.

Executive Vice President Trey Holmes said the decision to create the subcommittee stemmed from an influx of diversity-related issues last year.

“Last year I sat on [the student life committee], and a lot of legislation we were seeing dealt with diversity, inclusiveness and things like that,” Holmes said. “We really want to have students focusing on that all year instead of having a couple senators in the student life committee focusing half the time on things like that and half the time on other student life-related objectives.”

Vice President for Student Life Fernando Ramos was heavily involved in the formation of the diversity subcommittee, along with senators Charisse Poston and Sam Campbell. Ramos said he saw a need for a team of people dedicated to making Tulane’s campus a more inclusive place.

“Our main goal with this committee was to develop a source of representation that can sit on the USG cabinet that will be able to raise the conversation of diversity on campus,” Ramos said. “At least one of the members of the committee is planning to work with the Green Wave Ambassadors and form some sort of event to promote recruitment of underrepresented communities on campus.”

Ramos said he looked for someone with previous experience when selecting the director.

“We were basically looking for someone that had previous leadership experience and that had connections with different organizations that represent minority groups on campus,” Ramos said. “Additionally, [we looked for] someone that had previous experience working with administrators and committees and someone that had proper plans and ideas for the development of this position.”

Spiegelman has held many leadership positions in multicultural organizations since her sophomore year, including president of Student Women Embracing Equality at Tulane and the USG Gender and Sexual Advisory Council chair. She was a lead proponent of having GSAC become officially recognized on USG during the 2012-13 senate term. GSAC oversees all USG-recognized gender and sexual organizations on campus.

Spiegelman said she hopes to use the diversity subcommittee to make Tulane a safer space for all communities. 

“The goal [of our committee] is for our student government and our student community to be reflective of Tulane’s standards of diversity and inclusive excellence,” Spiegelman said. “We haven’t met as a committee yet, but [we want] the campus to be an equitable and safe place for all people to be universally accessible in terms of buildings, academics, programming and social life.”

Spiegelman is looking for a group of eight to 12 people to serve on the subcommittee. Once the members are selected, she said she hopes to develop both short-term and long-term plans to address Tulane’s diversity and political climate. Spiegelman said she hopes the student body will offer its viewpoints to the subcommittee.

“The position is meant to be accountable to the student body, so I’m open to suggestions and criticisms,” Spiegelman said.  “I’m trying to represent the people and not dictate.”