By Sarah Smith and Alex Jaffee
After two years of debate, the Student Senate passed a constitutional amendment to instate the Diversity and Unity Coordinating Committee which will be added to the executive branch if passed by a campus-wide vote.
The Diversity and Unity Coordinating Committee (DUCC) will act on behalf of the student body in the event of diversity-related incidents on campus. Additionally it will serve as a representative of diversity-seeking organizations within the Student Government Association.
“What’s important about adding it to the constitution is that it gets a vote in the executive board,” said sophomore and Co-Chair of the Constitutional Order Committee Taylor Wilson.
DUCC will be required to host at least one event in an effort to bring diversity-seeking organizations together. Also, DUCC will facilitate a community service project to better the campus environment or surrounding neighborhoods.
2007 UMW graduate and former SGA President Jay Sinha started the movement to create a Diversity Committee as part of the student government. According to Sinha, UMW is the only school other than Virginia Military Institute that does not have a diversity component in the student government.
Sinha hoped to foster unity not only between racial and ethnic minorities but also between different gender and sexual groups.
The DUCC’s first objective was to give the students a venue where they could bring up diversity issues. While there are student organizations that address issues from food to parking, there has been no student advocate in the department of diversity.
“Technically you could go to residence life, but what if a student felt like the school wronged them. The DUCC could lobby for students on diversity issues,” Sinha said.
Sinha’s additional goals for the DUCC were to help groups coordinates efforts toward diversity promotion and to catch up with the rest of Virginia’s schools to keep UMW competitive.
Sinha encountered significant opposition when he proposed the DUCC to the Senate in 2006.
“Some people just didn’t think it was a student government issue…We had a long and very tense argument about what the DUCC should be,” said Sinha.
The matter was resolved when the DUCC voted into existence on a trial basis.
“DUCC was passed and approved as an ad-hoc committee. That designation has since expired. However a DUCC Chair [Natalie Weiner] was elected in the campus-wide elections in March. I have since appointed her to serve as an adviser to SGA on diversity,” said SGA President Sean O’Brien.
This year’s senators, including Wilson, collected 410 student signatures to approve a Senate vote on a Constitutional amendment.
If students vote to support the addition of DUCC to the SGA, the committee will be composed of an executive chairperson, vice-chairperson, treasurer, secretary, and communications chairperson.