Tensions between IU Student Government and multicultural organizations have been building up over the past week. The leaders of these organizations believe their voices are not being heard in regard to issues specifically related to diversity and inclusion. As a result of their concerns, student leaders formed a new organization to bring forward demands they have to IUSG.
“We’re literally trying to build a coalition that is advocating for students the way they should be advocated for, representing the needs of the various backgrounds that have been able to be ignored because we are not a part of the majority,” Black Student Union president Ky Freeman said.
The Rainbow Coalition is a new group Freeman formed, bringing together student leaders in order to head an intersectional solidarity group. These leaders said they are frustrated by receiving a lack of communication from IUSG, so they created a list of demands to present.
There was a tentative meeting set between Freeman and IUSG president Rachel Aryani. According to emails, Aryani was under the impression the meeting would be a one-on-one basis, but Freeman wanted to have 15-20 students present. Aryani did not agree with the terms, so Freeman refused to go to the meeting.
“They can’t keep up with my mouth,” Freeman said. “And I think their meeting only prepared them to deal with Ky Freeman’s mouth.”
The Rainbow Coalition has three fundamental demands for IUSG — representation, transparency and funding.
According to Freeman, multicultural organizations want to be included in every decision made by IUSG moving forward by being granted congressional seats accompanied by voting power. With these seats, they want access to past budgets, bills passed, bylaws and the constitution.
The Rainbow Coalition wants to come up with more equitable ways to be represented on IU’s campus while supporting students in ways that other organizations cannot do.
According to an IDS article, a proposal of $30,000 from the recent IUSG budget for 2021 is being dedicated to creating COVID-19 assistance funds. The coalition said they would like to see this money reallocated as hazard pay to residential assistants who have not been deemed at risk enough to be compensated for their work during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The coalition also suggested some funds be distributed to provide pipeline funding for organizations outside IUSG, with some put into an incubator fund for start up organizations. Student organizations don’t always have the means to stay active or have longevity due to financial issues.
Multicultural organizations are at the point where demanding change is the only way to see change.
After the 2021 budget was posted on Twitter, many leaders tagged IUSG in posts asking questions about the new budget and how it came about. They did not respond to or acknowledge those comments according to Ky Freeman and Latinos Unidos co-president Evelyn Sanchez.
“I saw them still active,” Sanchez said. “So you see that we’re upset, so why aren’t you doing anything about it? You say you represent us, yet you’re not listening to us.”
The leaders believe past communication efforts between cultural groups and IUSG have only been surface level.
“You can’t just not respond to us because you’re intimidated by what it is we’re saying,” Freeman said.
With being provided elected congressional seats with voting power, the Rainbow Coalition wants to see a committee of multicultural leaders that are required to vote on policies passed through IUSG. Without representation and inclusion in IUSG, these groups cannot trust that decisions are being made with their best interest in mind.
“If we don’t know the benefits they’re giving us, and if we don’t see those benefits, are they actually creating change,” La Casa member Ruby Flores said.
According to Freeman, right now the mission of the Rainbow Coalition is to get as much media coverage as possible. They want to make their voices heard and let it be known that they are not backing down until change is made. The coalition said communication between multicultural groups and IUSG is at a halt right now, but that may change in the days to come.
“We’re no longer asking to be represented, we’re tellingyou that you’re going to do that,” Freeman said.
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