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Accuracy • Independence • Integrity

July 10, 2020   |   Ithaca, NY

Opinion

Students of Color Coalition seat added to SGC senate must be recognized

On Monday, January 27th, the Ithaca College Student Governance Council (SGC) unanimously passed an amendment to seat a member of the Students of Color Coalition (SOCC), with voting power, on the senate. Effective immediately, the Students of Color Coalition Senator will be tasked with representing the Coalition and the interests of students of color on the Senate. 

The Coalition, which was established in Fall 2019, is meant to synchronize efforts between ALANA organizations on campus while advocating for students of color. SOCC is a student body housed in the Center for IDEAS. 

For many years, Student Governance Council, the primary advocacy body for Ithaca students, has debated the creation of such a position. In 2015, POC at IC led a series of protests that effectively forced former president Tom Rochon to step down from the presidency. In 2017, President Shirley Collado began her term as Ithaca College’s ninth president. After the protests, and the excitement surrounding President Collado’s term, it was clear that students of color needed more meaningful representation than already existed. Questions arose of how to best do this — would an ALANA senator be too broad, or in fact too narrow? Would an ALANA senator risk tokenization? 

When seniors Sobeida Rosa and Annis Bell, with several other colleagues, created the Students of Color Coalition, SGC saw an opportunity to solidify a position that was aimed at advancing the needs of students of color. With the Coalition established, there was a mechanism through which a senator position could be created. Sophomore Sebastian Chavez and junior Roy Perera collaborated on writing the legislation that eventually passed. 

While The Ithacan chose to focus on the Council’s discussion with Dean of Students Bonnie Prunty — no doubt an important, and necessary, conversation — the creation of this position was grossly underrepresented in last week’s article. With just 4 lines, The Ithacan minimized what is perhaps one of the most significant pieces of legislation SGC has passed in recent times which will have an impact on the students of Ithaca for years to come. 

The legislation is for the students who bravely fought for change in 2015. It is for the students who just at the end of 2019 displayed inequities in their classrooms. It is for students of color like myself who have always struggled to find their place on this campus. It is for the students of color who struggle quietly, in their own ways, as well as the students of color who express their struggles for the good of their peers. This legislation tells students of color: not only are you a part of the Ithaca College community, you are an integral part of this community. 

The seating of the SOCC senator will change as the needs of students of color change. Responsibilities can expand, and the role can change according to the times. For now, however, this is a monumental piece of work that cannot be minimized to four lines of writing.