Legislation Calling for Diversity Fails to Pass
Representatives of the Leg.Council oppose resolution based on a lack of input from the administration.
The ASUCI Legislative Council struck down resolution R48-33 at their meeting on Thursday, Feb. 14 in Woods Cove A. The resolution, which proposed that the UC system should add a Southwestern Asia/ North African ethnic category for student applications to UC campuses in addition to other national subcategories from that geographical region, was one vote short of passing, with six votes cast in favor, five abstaining and one opposed.
The Council debated this measure at length before they voted on the resolution at the end of the meeting. Humanities Representative Shadi Jafari proposed the resolution with Social Science Representative Hassan Mukhlis because she believed the resolution would encourage diversity in the UC system and benefit students of Middle Eastern and North African descent.
“We proposed this legislation because as the Middle Eastern Community and the North African community and the other ethnicity groups, they don’t exactly have a place on campus. We either have to put ‘other’ or White or Asian and that doesn’t really identify us as a group because as a White, there can be hundreds of different ethnicity groups and putting SWANA and passing it will do outreach, advocacy, retention and it will really diversify our campus and bring attention to these minority groups and actually give us a voice and not make us blend in like everybody else in our campus,” Jafari said.
Mukhlis supported the resolution on similar grounds, his goal was to use his position to help minority groups in the UC system.
“I personally wanted to be that voice for the minority group to who it will apply for the upcoming school year, that’s why I put my support behind it,” Mukhlis said.
Jafari and Mukhlis believed that the resolution would help future UC students of Middle Eastern or North African decent to express themselves and allow them to find scholarships.
Jafari’s and Mukhlis’ ideas were supported by fellow Council members, but some who agreed with Jafari and Mukhlis believed that the administration should be consulted before the Council voted on the resolution. Some motioned to postpone the vote until the next week. These members included Biological Sciences Representative Kleshie Baisie, who wanted to allow administration to participate in the process.
“I feel like we need to involve them in the process. We are literally going to pass this legislation and nothing is going to actually happen, UCI is not going to advocate for us or nothing is going to come from it if we don’t involve them in the process now,” Baisie said.
Jafari attempted to defend her idea of voting for the resolution before listening to the administration due to the fact that other campuses have passed similar resolutions.
“If we pass it now we can still involve them in the process because as she [Baisie] said they don’t see anything wrong with the legislation, they just want to be involved in it and so they can still be involved in it, they just have to understand the time constraint we have and how seriously we want this application or this legislation to have merit and have power behind the UC campuses and UCSA passed it,” Jafari said.
Similar resolutions have been passed by the Legislative Councils at UC San Diego, UC Berkley and UC Santa Barbra. The University of California Student Association passed a resolution for the SWANA ethnic category as well in an effort to get the University Office of the President (UCOP) to introduce the change to the applications for all UC campuses for the 2013-2014 school year. The deadline for UCOP to make changes to the applications for the 2013-2014 school year is in early March.
There were other calls from the Council to postpone the vote until the administration had a chance to discuss the matter with the Council.
No one on the Council voiced opposition to the idea of adding a SWANA category for UC applications, the opposition to the resolution was due to the timing of the resolution rather than its content.
The fact that the Council struck down R48-33 does not mean that the issue regarding the SWANA ethnic proposal may not be resolved. The resolution was popular amongst Council members and it is likely that another resolution like R48-33 will be proposed at the next Legislative Council meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 19.