More than 70 students demonstrated at the “Unite to Ignite rally” at Sample Gates on Friday with a list of demands for IU Student Government. Students held a large sign reading, “We are not asking for a seat at the table, we built our own.”
The rally was organized by Rainbow Coalition at IU, a new coalition of different multicultural groups on campus that are seeking change, organizer Ky Freeman said. Their demands include more representation for underrepresented students, more transparency with IUSG and creating hazard pay relief for resident assistants.
“We deserve to be heard,” Freeman said in a speech to the crowd. “Students from underrepresented communities do not always belong at the diversity table.”
IUSG executives refused to meet with students in a group, instead insisting on one-on-one meetings, organizer Lindsey Batteast said. She said Rainbow Coalition wanted to meet as a group because there are many problems from people with different perspectives. Organizer Evelyn Sanchez said one-on-one meetings felt tokenizing.
Batteast said she feels like IUSG and IU administration have been complicit in depriving students of color a seat at the table. She said students wouldn’t have to organize and rally if power was truly in their hands.
Batteast said she hopes the rally encourages IUSG to meet with underrepresented students in a group setting. She said the Rainbow Coalition will fight for more representation.
“We will not just bring our own seat to the table, but we will bring our own table,” Batteast said.
Ruby Flores, a resident assistant at IU, spoke about the difficulties of being an RA. She said many RAs she knows struggle with mental health, academics and financial needs. While RAs put their heart and souls into their residents, Flores said, that comes with a price.
“That price is being overworked with little compensation, that price is the mental health of my friends, that price is feeling undervalued and not heard,” Flores said.
Sanchez said a major frustration students have with IUSG is that Student Body President Rachel Aranyi and Student Body Vice President Ruhan Syed receive a $3,000 stipend.
As president of Latinos Unidos, Sanchez said she works for free and doesn’t see why IUSG executives can’t.
Junior Christina Colón said she was attending the rally because she wants to support students who don’t have access to resources and is hoping reallocation of the IUSG budget can help them, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.
She feels like this year's administration hasn’t followed through with many of their promises, she said.
Freeman said he hopes IUSG members hear their demands and take them seriously.
“Now they know we have the power to mobilize,” he said.