Indiana Daily Student

Black Voices: A long road ahead to improve diversity within IUSG

<p>Members of Indiana University Student Government pose for a photo at their booth Aug. 26, 2021, at the Student Involvement Fair in Dunn Meadow.</p>

Members of Indiana University Student Government pose for a photo at their booth Aug. 26, 2021, at the Student Involvement Fair in Dunn Meadow.

As one of the largest organizations on campus, IU Student Government works toward positive change for the university. While administrations change year to year, the goal should always be to make IU a better place for all students.

As a former director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion within IU Student Government, I have had the opportunity to be actively involved in its inside work.

Since its inception, diversity within IUSG has increased. However, it has been a long journey to this current point.

This year, the first openly gay, Black male president was elected to the presidency within the executive branch. The win for current IUSG president, Ky Freeman, displays this growth of diversity and intersectionality.

For Black students in particular, this win means we are seen within the organization and have a place at the table.

For many years, IUSG was heavily dominated by white male students. There are a few issues that arise because of this lack of diversity, one of which is the fact that marginalized and minority students may not have felt they could even run for office in any of the branches.

Current Congressional Secretary of IUSG, Grace Alvarez Rosario, said IUSG has not always been the most diverse and accessible place on campus.

“Diversity as an abstract concept is loved within this organization,” Alvarez Rosario said. “Diversity as a product of action is consistently under threat.”

I can attest that diversity is a key issue to tackle within the organization. In my position, I noticed not enough Black students apply for positions within IUSG. This has to change.

Diversity should always be a focus within the organization, but what must be understood is that BIPOC students and those belonging to other marginalized groups are also qualified to fulfill roles separate from diversity initiatives. 

In its most broad sense, diversity within the organization could simply mean representation of different cultures and backgrounds, which is often denoted by how one looks. However, diversity of the mind should present itself as a centralized focus on improving and expanding the organization.

IUSG Congress and the Election Commission have all announced their applications and campaigns for the year. In time, the IU Supreme Court will begin taking applications to fill seats as well.

Even though applications to begin campaigns are closed for IUSG Congress, underclassmen should feel encouraged this year to campaign for positions the next academic year. In order for the organization to grow, more diverse students are needed.

Congressional elections are taking place on Sept. 21 and 22.

According to the website, the Election Commission is still taking applications. A key portion of what the Election Commission does is to facilitate congressional and executive elections. 

IUSG is a place where all students should feel they have a place. Where they feel their voices are heard.

Alvarez Rosario said she is committed to improving diversity within the organization. 

“My time as a multicultural representative was spent fighting for diversity and accountability and I will continue to fight as Congressional Secretary,” Alvarez Rosario said. “I will continue to push for the equal representation of voices when addressing campus issues and for transparency and accountability of the organization's actions.”

As a student belonging to a minority community, Alvarez Rosario shared similar sentiments with me in regards to her personal work within the organization. 

“Some days I feel like all I do is diversity because it really is,” Alvarez Rosario said. “The lack of diversity in IUSG, specifically within the Student Body Congress, has shaped all of my time in this organization.”

BIPOC and marginalized groups of students should not be the only ones actively working involved in the improvement of diversity. This can be very limiting to the types of work and experiences that can be obtained.

This year, students of color make up 27% of the IU Bloomington campus according to the official census day records. While this may not seem like a huge number to some, it is enough to help improve diversity within the organizations on campus, IUSG included.

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