Editorial: Student Senate should keep diversity requirement

Diversity is something that’s celebrated in American culture.

Children and adults alike are both encouraged to explore and respect others’ cultures and to hold them in high regards to their own. To make a conscious effort to pursue the knowledge of another culture is left entirely up to the individual based on how one will apply that knowledge in day-to-day life.

Politicians are especially held to a high standard of cultural sensitivity; a racist remark or an unwitting ethnic slur can kill a politician’s career and blacklist the individual forever.

So it’s understandable if Student Senate required its members to have some semblance of cultural awareness on Eastern’s campus.

However, for the third time this semester, Student Senate decided to reconsider rewording the bylaw that requires its members to meet certain diversity requirements.

As it was, the Student Senate bylaws stated, “All senators are required to participate in a selected event, program, or meeting that promotes diversity on campus.”

The bylaws further provided three options for senate members, including but not limited to, planning events that promote diversity on campus or in the community, or attending “at least two . or more diverse forums as deemed appropriate by the diversity affairs chair.”

In February, senate members expressed frustration with the wording, particularly “diversity.”

In an article published on Feb. 4, senate member Mark Olendzki called it “a matter of clearing things up.”

“The problem is that the word is open to interpretation,” Olendzki said.

But that’s where the issue laid for the senate, encouraging the need for a bylaw change that would get senate members more involved with the student body.

Olendzki, along with Tiffany Turner, vice president for business affairs, headed a bylaw change that would require Student Senate members to “facilitate or help plan a (an) event or program that promotes of the EIU/Charleston community.”

The vote passed through the senate with 18 yes, three no and three abstentions.

By eliminating options such as simply attending events, the bylaw change now requires senate members to participate more in the campus community, developing stronger bonds with their constituents.

By the penalty of a given senate member’s vote carrying no worth, senate members must fulfill the stated requirements.

This is a positive move for the Student Senate, one which Olendzki and Turner should be applauded for authoring and getting through the senate.

The new requirements provide each member with valuable cultural and ethnic insight that can be applied to the campus and the community.

The editorial is the majority opinion of The DEN editorial board. Reach the opinions editor at: [email protected].