SGA adviser challenges students to diversify senate

During Tuesday’s senate meeting, Student Government Association was given a call to action for more diversity from adviser Matt James. James asked senators to look around and see what they noticed about the group. Some senators replied with “low.” 

“It’s low, we’re about to have an election. What else do you notice about our membership?” James said. “A lot of you all look like me. That’s not a bad thing, but in terms of being a representative group, it can be.”

James challenged senators to think of ways they could make SGA more diverse. Senator Isabella Robinson was one of the senators who immediately voiced her ideas for the senate’s open forum. Robinson said encouraging anyone to join senate is one of the number one ways they could work harder to diversify. 

“I’m part of a lot of organizations,” Robinson said. “Some are geared toward diversity; others are not and are made up of primarily white students. My thing about diversifying senate is pushing what I’ve been told my whole life, that hasn’t let me get down, is just encouragement.”

Robinson said the encouragement she was given when joining SGA helped her to feel more comfortable. 

“It sounds kind of silly because we are all college students, but encouragement goes a long way,” Robinson said. “I would be like a ton of other minority students at Marshall, just sitting back and doing my schoolwork because I’m lucky to be here anwd keeping my mouth shut and not putting my feet out there and not letting my voice be heard.”

A problem senators face when expanding senate is some students being intimidated to join SGA. Robinson said this is something she even faced when joining the organization. 

“We are student government and we are an important group on Marshall’s campus, but it can be intimidating to walk into this room,” Robinson said. “I was intimidated at first until I started hanging out in the office and I got to know the senators personally and they got to know me.”

Other senate members also made comments after James’ call to action. Senate Parliamentarian Jo Tremmel said she wanted senators to know there would be changes being made to make SGA a more open environment. 

“Talking about diversity, there will be some resolutions coming through next week, hopefully to help our diversity in this very room,” Tremmel said. 

James said he wants SGA to work harder at achieving it. 

“I want you all to lead by example and help me go out and reach more people who don’t look like me to sit in this room,” he said. “We can be even more effective.”

Kyra Biscarner can be contacted at [email protected].