SGA discusses discrimination, creates committee

Jamie Williams

During Tuesday’s meeting, the Student Government Association created a committee dedicated to preventing sexual assault and suicide.

In addition to focusing on sexual assault prevention and suicide prevention, SGA’s Standing Against Violence and Ending Self-harm special committee will  work to expand mental health resources on campus.

This committee will work with the Counseling and Testing Center to review existing university policies and to conduct awareness campaigns. SGA senator Francisco Serrano was appointed as the new chair of the SAVES committee.

“This committee is going to be a huge, huge thing for campus,” Serrano said. “It’s going to focus on making campus safe again for everyone.”

Additionally, SGA discussed allegations that an SGA member was making racist remarks.

Cody Cox, chief justice of the SGA Judicial Council, reported receiving a complaint that several members of the SGA had made “racist remarks at some point in time.” The Judicial Council will meet Wednesday to determine if it will further investigate the incident, and more information will be provided during the next SGA meeting.

“We’re going to see what we can do –– if we want to start an investigation, if we don’t want to start an investigation,” Cox said during the meeting. “I kind of wanted to emphasize to you all that that is not tolerated in the Student Government Association at Western Kentucky University, whatsoever.”

Following the judicial report, Francisco Serrano discussed his own recent experience with discrimination on campus. On Wednesday, Oct. 5, Serrano and his girlfriend were walking outside of Downing Student Union when someone drove past, threw a cup of water at them and called them racial slurs.

“Obviously this is something that we, as a university, will not tolerate,” Serrano said. “That is not what represents us. It’s something that’s very sad, that we’ve let it come to this.”

Taylorsville freshman Ryan Linton spoke out against discrimination against LGBT students. WKU’s Discrimination and Harassment Policy includes protections for students of varying race, religion, political affiliation, sexual orientation, among other characteristics. Although the statement provides protection based on gender, it does not explicitly provide protection for an individual’s gender identity.

“I don’t know personally of any people that have been fired because they have been transgender,” Linton said. “But I would like to never see that happen on Western’s campus.”

MyCampusToo, a task force created by the SGA, was established to prioritize diversity and combat discrimination at WKU. At the meeting, Helen Vickrey was appointed the new chair of the committee after former chair Michael Shelton resigned from the position. Desherra Bronston was also appointed as a new senator.

“I originally came to SGA so I could make a change on campus,” Bronston said. “I came here; I saw the clear issue of the level of diversity here, so I really would just love to be a part of changing that.”

SGA senators also approved two bills at the meeting. The first will allocate funding for several student organizations including the WKU Women’s Rugby Team, Hilltopper Organization of Latin American Students and the Black Women of Western.

The second approved bill allows SGA to sponsor the 2016 Presidential Debate Fest which will take place Wednesday, Oct. 19, at 7 p.m. in the Downing Student Union. The event will feature a viewing party of the third presidential debate along with free food and other entertainment.

Reporter Jamie Williams can be reached at 270-745-6011 and [email protected].