The Opportunity for All Center Taskforce gave the Student Government Association an update on the status of the Opportunity Center during SGA’s last meeting of the semester. SGA also passed two bills, one resolution and discussed selling alcohol on campus.
The Opportunity Center Taskforce described the timeline for the Opportunity Center thus far and the status of the Center. Laura McNaughton, the president’s chief of staff at the University of South Dakota, said the space currently designated as the Center for Diversity and Community (CDC) will become a Student Center space. The Opportunity Center will take over some other offices upstairs in the Munster University Center (MUC).
“The vision for the location of it to be housed in offices across from where the student-centered space will be the Aramark office, Coyote Card office, and Student Rights and Responsibilities will be relocated so that space can be renovated to house the Opportunity Center,” McNaughton said.
Cindy Struckman-Johnson, a professor of Psychology at USD, said the CDC is important to USD because it offers a safe space for students, especially students part of the LGBTQ community.
“What you are doing here is taking away, firstly what we’ve worked on for many years, and I’ve watched it year by year by year. So it’s been so good in the last five years when we had our diversity and that beautiful space up there.”
Marcus Destin, who is on the Opportunity for All Center Taskforce, said that although the administration itself cannot promise that the programing of the Office of Multicultural Affairs will still have the same goals as the CDC programming, the students can still work to shape what the Office of Multicultural Affairs will look like.
“The student voice is what guides this whole thing.
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Anybody can come up here and craft and manufacture a hierarchy and we can say this is what it’s going to look like, but you determine what it is going to feel like,” Destin said.
Senate Resolution 9, originally introduced Oct. 12 before being tabled the following week, was reintroduced and passed with one vote over a simple majority. Senate Resolution 9 is a Resolution in Opposition to the Establishment of an Opportunity Center at the University of South Dakota.
Senator Rachel Overstreet said the Opportunity Center is hurting the CDC beyond taking space away from the CDC organizations.
“What matters is that for decades, there’s no commitment by the university to help diverse students or student organizations succeed in any way. We were fined heavily by the (Higher Learning Commission). The CDC was their response to that. What’s happening now is that response is being gutted and we’re back to square one,” Overstreet said.
Senator Caleb Swanson, who abstained from the vote, said he has mixed feelings about the legislation.
“I’m incredibly conflicted, On the first point, and I’ll be incredibly blunt here, I think that the whole place where this came about from a conflict over the word ‘diversity,’ the movements associated with it and the efforts that they’re trying to promote being considered divisive or wrong or harmful is utterly ridiculous,” Swanson said. “I also find a little bit of issue with the general wording and sentiment of this resolution. I think it is unclear exactly what we want to see and what exactly we take issue with the Opportunity Center.”
Senate Bill 71 funds the German Club, also called Deutschklub. The bill was introduced by Senator Reagan Kolberg, the chair of the Finance Committee.
Senate Bill 72 was passed as emergency legislation. The bill requires the Election Steering Committee to conduct outreach prior to the election to encourage more students to run for SGA positions.
Director of Communications Addison Miller introduced the bill along with Overstreet. Miller said SGA is lacking in representation across the campus, with more than half of SGA members being from the College of Fine Arts. Furthermore, many SGA senators are from the Political Science and Criminal Justice departments.
“This bill is directly aligned with the election outreach strategic plan sent out earlier this semester. As we know, participation in this body is absolutely lacking in certain areas of campus in regards to a variety of allocated seats. The Delzell School of Education, the College of Fine Arts, School of Health Services, and the graduate schools are all allocated seats on this senate and none of which are in this room.”
Two representatives from SDSU, Jonathan Sundet and Brandon Frizzell, spoke to SGA about selling alcohol on the campuses of South Dakota’s public colleges. Senate Resolution 13, A Resolution in Support of Alcohol Sales at Regental Universities was first introduced during the SGA meeting two weeks ago and final action will be taken when SGA returns in Jan. 2022.