Proposal for addressing systematic inequality at GS passes student senate unanimously

SGA Executive Vice-President Valencia Warren proposed a resolution for GS to address systematic inequality that affects minorities. photo found on students.georgiasouthern.edu.

George Andersen

Valencia Warren, Student Government Association executive vice president, proposed a resolution for the university to acknowledge systematic inequality that affects minorities during a SGA meeting on Nov. 29 at 6:30 p.m.

This resolution, which passed through the student senate unanimously, consisted of ten major clauses and suggestions to Georgia Southern University on how to better handle underrepresentation of minorities on campus.

Some of the problems Warren addressed in her resolution included the underrepresentation of people of color in faculty positions which she said “sends the message to those employees of color, that they are only able to work at the lower levels of the organizations in comparison to their white counterparts.”

Warren said that this resolution was created around two months ago, partially in a response to a situation of inequality that she felt in her own life.

“At the time I was invited to run on the ticket as the executive vice president, based on my qualifications and the things I had done in the senate,” Warren said. “Then it was turned back around a little later to say that the candidate didn’t think a minority ticket could win. So I knew that at some point during my tenure as executive vice president that I wanted to present some legislation to address this issue that many students face.”

Warren’s legislation includes proposals ranging from asking the university to acknowledge that there is a problem, to the instituting of a Chief Diversity Officer and diversity training for faculty.

“No longer should the days come where students avoid difficult conversation on this topic for fear of being rejected. Instead we should embrace the conversation,” Warren said.

Warren also had fellow GS students who have seen problems on campus speak out at the meeting.

“Somehow the professor felt it was appropriate to consistently make disparaging an unrelated gender based remarks about his own wife,” Joshua Ahiakwo, a senior double major in international studies and Spanish, said. “The air of discomfort was palpable.”

Prior to Ahiakwo’s sharing of his story, the legislation did not directly address women as a demographic that needed representation. The legislation was, however, later amended to have wording that was more inclusive of women in its proposals.

Following Ahiakwo was Chatise Smith, a graduate student of public administration, who shared her experiences with diversity on campus.

“I’ve been asked ‘oh you’re in that black sorority right? Show us that dance that you guys do’” Smith said. “I know it’s a simple story but I ask faculty staff and students… be aware of the things that you ask.”

Warren said that she would be meeting with SGA President Dylan John and Provost Diana Cone for further discussion regarding the resolution.

{{tncms-inline content=”<p>A previous version of this article stated that Joshua Ahiakwo was a history and Spanish double major, but he is actually a double major in international studies and Spanish. The George-Anne regrets this mistake.</p> ” id=”9b6a40c5-6ac5-4f2e-84cc-cd7922812c9f” style-type=”correction” title=”Correction” type=”relcontent”}}