IU students will vote Friday on a new bill that could give multicultural communities a bigger voice in IU Student Government.
If passed, a minimum of 31 new seats would be added to the current 62, giving multicultural organizations such as the Black Student Union a larger voice in the IU Student Congress.
“If this doesn't pass, it will show that our voices, our concerns of representation, inclusion are being silenced,” said Lindsey Batteast, a graduate student and one of the contributors of the bill.
The bill would devote at least one-third of the student congress to multicultural voices, allowing various student organizations to have a group representative in IUSG.
Students will receive an email containing a copy of the constitutional amendment and a link to vote, junior and co-chair of the Election Commission Lucy Newell said.
IUSG initially passed the bill in November, allowing it to proceed to the next step: a student body vote. If the majority of the student body votes to approve the bill Friday, multicultural student organizations can apply for one of the new seats in the student congress, according to the bill. The vote must pass before these organizations can start appointing representatives.
Related: [Read more IU Student Government coverage here]
Some student organizations could assume their seats in congress and begin voting on legislation as soon as Feb. 1 if the bill passes, sophomore and IUSG Congressional Secretary Romael Khan said.
According to the bill, requirements for organizations to apply for a seat include a BeInvolved website registration, a display of intent to participate in IUSG and an Election Commission review and certification.
The commission will vote to certify an organization after they apply. The bill defines a multicultural student organization as “nonpartisan student organizations that represent a historically and currently underrepresented ethnicity, culture, nationality, gender, sexuality, disability or religion."
Congress and the executive branch will also take “all practical steps” to contact and encourage relevant organizations to join the Congress, according to the bill.
Once IUSG receives confirmation the bill has been approved, Khan said IUSG will immediately reach out to organizations asking if they wish to petition for seats.
“We're not trying to waste time here,” he said.
Senior Steven Rigg, a Congress member, said he expects the new seats to be filled by the end of March at the latest, provided the bill passes the student vote.
The Black Student Union plans to apply for a seat, junior and BSU president Ky Freeman said. Like other student organizations, the BSU will edit its constitution to create the new IUSG representative position.
Junior and IU Culture Club President Ashley Elane said her group is enthusiastic about being a part of the Congress, but she emphasized the need for seats for larger organizations such as BSU.
Batteast said she encouraged advocates of multicultural communities to vote on the referendum. She said the bill is historic.
“Now is your time to be active in your allyship,” Batteast said “Because what is an ally, if you aren't doing anything to change the status quo?”
CORRECTION: A previous version of this article misstated the number of seats multicultural organizations might be given if the referendum passes. The graphic showing the breakdown of seats was inaccurate and has been removed. The previous version of this article misstated the definition of a multicultural student organization.
Editor’s Note: IUSG changed the official definition of multicultural student organizations in the document after this article was published.