The University of South Dakota Student Government Association has created an inclusive excellence subcommittee to replace a diversity subcommittee that previously failed after trying to become a full student organization.
SGA passed a bill Feb. 3 to bring the committee back under the control of SGA.
“What this would do would create the subcommittee which would be comprised of SGA representatives and students from across campus to be able to come together and make sure that the student government — the student representatives of our student body as a whole — are practicing inclusive excellence. And then also being able to do special projects,” SGA President Tyler Tordsen said.
Although the committee has no specific projects on their plate yet, they have a general idea of what sort of projects they will deal with, Tordsen said.
“The nice part is that this committee can work on any projects towards inclusive excellence in SGA and on campus. Some examples are hosting the annual Diversity Symposium every year on campus where they bring in various speakers to help explore different areas. They basically have a clean slate to take inclusive excellence at USD to the next level,” Tordsen said.
The committee will form in March following SGA elections.
Sophomore Marissa Tran is the vice president of both the International Club and the Asian American Student Association and is also involved in the American Muslim Student Association. She said SGA is taking the right steps toward including all students and student organizations on campus.
“SGA’s been really supportive of what we’ve been doing for the diversity center,” Tran said.
Even though she does appreciate SGA’s support, she would like to see a more two-way relationship between the governing body and the Center for Diversity and Community.
“I want to see what they’re doing, because I don’t know what they’re doing really. I want more involvement in the Center, because I don’t see them,” Tran said. “Attend a meeting. We’ve been to theirs, but it would be nice to have SGA members come to ours. Just keep us updated on what’s going on in SGA, because I don’t think we really know what’s going on.”
Tordsen said the previous diversity subcommittee broke down because members of the old committee graduated, took internships and were too busy to continue.
“That broke free into students for inclusive excellence,” Tordsen said. “It was a student organization that had some of the same students on it with the same vision of being able to work with other student orgs across campus and kind of be the bridge between SGA and the university and diverse student orgs.”
First-year Megan Bartels is the vice president of SPECTRUM. Bartels said she wants more involvement around campus within the diversity community.
“One thing that I would like to see more of is interest,” Bartels said. “I wish there would be more interest around campus in certain issues that might not concern that particular demographic. It’s definitely difficult to get people interested sometimes, but you have to work through that.”
Bartels also addressed how inclusive excellence can bring all people together.
“It definitely means intersectionality in terms of being progressive,” she said. “You definitely have to keep in mind all communities — you can’t dismiss another community’s experiences because you don’t fit into that. You have to take everyone’s experiences into consideration.”